DAY 44, Part 2: 20 things I’ve learned since starting thinglistr (you’re not ready for #2!)

Here are a few things I’ve experienced while running this party for the last month and a half:

20. My first ideas sucked; some of them sucked hard. (One of my first ideas before thinglistr was an app that would let people print from anywhere using super cheap laser printers. Not quite Facebook for dogs, but yeah, not exciting.)

19. Sleep *is* really difficult to come by.

18. I think about how to make thinglistr better *all* of the time. I’m not joking; thinglistr is on my mind 24/7, and I often think about it in my sleep. I’ve had nights where I *couldn’t* sleep because I was too busy brainstorming solutions to certain things.

17. My social life has been shot to hell. I almost never go out anymore. (This is fine with me; I spent way too much time in previous years partying and stuff, so I’m not missing much.)

16. On the Internet, *everyone* is an entrepreneur-in-residence and expert on scaling on startups. Separating the wheat from the chaff is a full-time job.

15. You’ll be surprised by who follows who on Twitter. Twitter is weird.

14. I actually discovered that I like Twitter more than Facebook. It’s more…human, in a way. You couldn’t *pay* me to say this not just a few months ago.

13. Pitching is exactly like online dating right down to the profile. (You need to say the right things, have the right look, have the right goals, etc.)

12. Unlike dating, the dating coaches (i.e. people that ‘made it’ and got funded/acquired/went public) won’t charge you $2.5 gazillion to teach you how to get results. Seriously, there are A LOT of surprisingly helpful people in this community; it’s humbling.

11. Ironically (and really surprisingly), a lot of the people that I’ve met since starting this are surprisingly successful in their careers. I’ve never worked with so many investment bankers and laywers as I have since entering this scene…and they’re all pretty decent people!

10. Even more surprisingly, I haven’t met that many developers/IT folks starting their own thing. I feel like a unicorn for some reason (even though I know I’m not).

9. It’s really easy to burn lots of cash on things that are free or cheap with a few more minutes of work.

8. Reddit is an amazing place for finding people/advice…but there is A LOT of crap to sift through.

7. If you ever had issues speaking in public or talking to strangers, you get good at it real quick.

6. My lifting program went to shit really quickly after work ramped up. (I was doing a modified 3-day push-pull-legs routine, my normal go-to during my cuts, but between meetings, work, and this, managing even two days of lifting is a challenge.)

5. I am glad that I’m doing this in NYC and not in Silicon Valley,

4. People are surprisingly very willing to help you out…if you don’t come off as spammy.

3. Everything is a juggling act when you’re doing this part-time. Do you spend the rest of the night banging out that new feature, or do you spend the night doing market research? Damn, the mockups need to be updated, should I do that instead?

2. Having a really understanding girlfriend/wife/partner helps a lot, even if they aren’t in the scene with you. I cannot imagine what it must be like trying to build something like this while in an unsupportive relationship.

1. I’m actually building something that might help other people. Waking up with that in mind feels really, really good.

DAY 44, Part 2: 20 things I’ve learned since starting thinglistr (you’re not ready for #2!)

Day 44: Icebreakers aren’t useless after all.

STATUS: Apparently, people really¬†like the name “thinglistr.” Maybe I should become a business naming consultant.

MOOD: Slightly less tired af

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I started promoting thinglistr today. I asked people who I thought might be interested in something like this to help me with some research I’m doing (because let’s face it; startups are really expensive social experiments…at least at first). I spent most of the day being slightly terrified of having to cold approach. I got hung up on my fear of being perceived as spammy; after all, this isn’t too different from the guys in Times Square trying to get people to buy (or “buy”) their mixtapes.

The reception was overwhelmingly positive. I spoke to six people today and ALL of them were really receptive towards helping me out. I took a shot with a bunch of Brooklyn natives like myself and got to taste a MEAN Manhattan with Macallan 12 (which was REALLY good, btw). I only stopped because I ran out of business cards (which the people I spoke with really liked; thanks little MOO!)

The *first* approach was the momentum that got the ball rolling for me. It felt like that groggy feeling you get when trying to get out of bed. Exactly like it, in fact. I felt instantly comfortable with promoting thinglistr to anyone who’d listen *the very minute* I approached that group.

TL;DR: Get out of the building already; people are more helpful than you think 

Day 44: Icebreakers aren’t useless after all.

Day 42: Failing to plan is planning to fail…but doing nothing is worse.

STATUS: Thinglistr now promotes Meetup events nearby! Facebook and Twitter integration are on their way! Lots of new followers on here and Twitter! (Thanks for your support, guys!) Cool!

MOOD: A little down, but only for a short bit.

——————–

I spent a few hours working on thinglistr’s Facebook integration and came upon a sticky point. Without revealing too much technical detail, let’s just say that businesses use Facebook in lots of really interesting ways that I never thought of before. After spending a few hours thinking of a solution and drawing blanks, I started feeling lost. In some ways, interesting coding problems can become booby traps that sap up huge chunks of your already-way-too-limited free time. What’s worse is that these traps can *seem like pressing problems* in the heat of the moment.

This Facebook conundrum was one such example, and I almost fell for it. In the middle of thinking up a few complex solutions to this problem, I realized something really critical.

I didn’t have a plan.

I knew that thinglistr needs to collect events and event hints from various sources. I knew that getting those events was going to be challenging, so I spent (and am spending) a lot of time getting that working. Even though I’m on the right track there, I realized that I never stopped to actually define *what an event actually ~is~.* Considering that I’m building thinglistr so that it’s the best damn event discovery/promoter/”poster-on-the-post-no-bills-board” service that the world has ever seen, I posited that knowing what an event in thinglistr looks like is a bit of a big deal.

So instead of spending three more hours racking my head on the Facebook problem, I spent an hour and change actually writing down what I wrote down a few times before: the kinds of events that thinglistr retrieves. And while writing these down, I came upon another realization: my answer to this question looked a LOT clearer than it did when I wrote this down last time. The note was slightly bigger this time. I had categories. I had flowcharts. I had fatal conditions and non-fatal conditions.

The last time I did this, I had *ideas.* This time, I had a system. A real system. And even though I had spent a good chunk of time developing it, it felt *really* good having it laid out like this. I knew that thinglistr has a leg up over the competition; now, I know *exactly* how it does. I knew enough about how thinglistr worked to explain it during pitches; now, I can pitch *a system.*

But I don’t think I would have arrived at this point without jotting down some rough ideas and simply building shit.

I’m loving how much I’m learning while I’m doing this. School can’t teach this. Jobs can’t teach this. It’s all fascinating.

Day 42: Failing to plan is planning to fail…but doing nothing is worse.