Since pivoting to take my work in a more entrepreneurial direction 4 weeks ago I have had the opportunity to take on a broader set of responsibilities beyond just writing code.
Over the last few weeks I have been assisting two new companies with some design work on company logos, pitch decks, websites, social media presences and tech stuff. It has been refreshing to be in a ‘get it done’ setting where I can assume ownership and take charge in order to maintain the momentum.
Doing things outside my normal wheel well is getting me out of the narrow specialisation that I found myself in and back to the generalization that I grew up with. When I was younger my parents encouraged me to build and fix things for myself. My friends and I built and iterated on many designs for rafts, treehouses, model rockets, bike and skateboard ramps. I became a decent bike mechanic, a skilled wood worker, a modest musician, and a computer expert.
Generally when presented with a problem I lean towards the option of solving it myself. So for example when I started to build websites in highschool I ended up getting decent at using Photoshop. When I wanted to explore internet marketing I spent years learning and practising sales and copywriting.
Sadly many of the skills I had have atrophied from disuse. Despite writing and split testing hundreds of ads over two years, nobody who hires me as a software developer would believe I can have insight on how to write a strong sales letter.
There was a thought experiment I used to do often when I was younger: If I was a time traveller stuck in the middle ages, or pre-history or some other time period would I have enough knowledge to create a technology such as electric lights. If it was in the 1870’s I could have sent a letter to Thomas Edison and tell him to use tungsten. If it was the 1500s, before tungsten was discovered, would I have enough knowledge to prospect the minerals, design, build and operate a smelter to craft a filament? what other technologies would need to be developed and where are the gaps in what I know that I wouldn’t be able to figure out from basic principles or experimentation.
I saw a quote a couple weeks back that seemed apt.
What drives people out of a job and towards entrepreneurship is often a difference between the value and skills they know they have and what they can convince an employer of.