Alex Mingoia

@alexmingoia.com

Thoughts on art, peace, and profit.
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The Multi-Path Career

TL;DR * From executives to individual contributors, we all make one career bet at a time. * This is poor “portfolio theory” (to use a phrase from investing), meaning that this is not a balanced “portfolio” of diverse bets. It’s a career “portfolio” of extremely concentrated bets. * You can win big this way, but […]

Quantity x Quality

Quantity or quality? Which is better? Neither, because you can do both. The more you create, the more opportunities you have to improve.

Quantity and quality go together. Zero of your best is nothing. Two wrongs don’t make a right. But do your best, do it consistently, and the result is great value.

The more you know the less you do

Dr. Seuss said “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” But Dr. Seuss didn’t have the Internet in his pocket.

Knowledge is a means to an end. What do you do with knowledge if you spend all day absorbing it? Knowing is for doing. Save some time for practicing what you’ve learned.

I propose my own poem in response to Dr. Seuss: The more that you read, the more that you will know. If all you do is learn, you won’t have any time to grow.

Tests failed us. Why workshops won’t.

The future of education is not moving tests online. It’s no tests at all. The future of education is workshops.

Teachers as mentors, not lecturers and truancy officers. Exercises instead of lectures. Peers instead of tests. Projects instead of grades.

Workshops are self-directed. There’s a schedule to the exercises, but enough room for people to go at different paces. Students work in the open, learning from each other. Students are encouraged to collaborate, not punished as cheaters. Students compete by seeing what’s possible.

After completing a workshop, you have a project to show for it – not a score. After completing a workshop, you have an alumni network to draw on.

Workshops are about learning to do great work, instead of learning to pass a test. Workshops are the future of education.

Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert, explains the problem with education in more detail in his talk at RSA.

The Danger with Ideas

The danger with ideas is being in love with them. We tend to protect them. We keep our work from the world to ignore criticism, and the possibility of failure. We don’t want to let go, so we waste our time hanging on.

Artists, creators, and entrepreneurs especially have a hard time letting go. Ideas are what inspire and seduce us into bringing our time and tools to bear. Making something from nothing and turning an idea into reality takes work. Letting go is hard, but holding tight prevents us from doing better.

To see what works requires shining light on ideas, and having the courage to let go of what’s not working. If you let go of your ideas, you can make room for better ones.

One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked. ‘Where do you want to go?’ was his response. ‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered. ‘Then,’ said the cat, ‘it doesn’t matter. ― Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

Investing in Leisure

Production and consumption aren’t mutually exclusive. We can learn to cook by eating our own meals, rather than eating out. Learn something new, by reading instead of watching TV. Relax by growing a garden, instead of playing games. Next time you find yourself having fun but going nowhere, think about how you can take it somewhere. We can turn leisure into an investment.

Means to an End

There’s a popular conception that entrepreneurship is about solving problems. It’s not. Problem solving is a means to an end, but rarely is the end a problem.

Frank Zappa was an entrepreneur that composed and sold music. What problem was he solving? Did he set out to solve a problem, or make music? Zappa made music and connected with people who enjoyed it. He probably solved many problems along the way, but his enterprise wasn’t solving a problem. His enterprise was making great music.

Create space to create, and ignore what’s causing you to ignore. You can’t be producing when you’re consuming. Turn it all off so you can turn on.

Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art. — Andy Warhol

Leadership is being proactive and doing the right thing. That’s it. But it’s often painful and difficult, so people avoid it. We think of leaders as people at the top of an organization, but everyone can be a leader according to this definition.

Forget budgeting apps, spreadsheets, and tracking expenses. I put income into 2 accounts, discretionary (spend how I want) and non-discretionary (emergency fund, rent, food). Tracking expenses isn’t budgeting, it’s accounting. Don’t make money complicated.

Teams are happy and effective when their personal goals align with the company’s goals. “I pay you to do X” is a recipe for apathy. “We help each other achieve X and Y” is a recipe for success.

If video killed the radio star, then the internet killed the star, and fractured it into infinite pieces. — thevardanian

The Internet manifests the mind. The Internet expands consciousness. The Internet is a psychedelic.

Everyone is doing it. But, whose everyone? It’s often those who listen to their heart instead of the crowd that end up changing everything. The crowd is loud and the heart is quiet, but we can learn to listen.