This is my go-to advice (extracted from Paul Graham’s Superlinear Returns essay) for ambitious individuals seeking to make something people want. It precisely articulates what they should do and is concise enough to re-read it often.
- Choose work you have a natural aptitude for and a deep interest in.
- Develop a habit of working on your own projects; it doesn’t matter what they are so long as you find them excitingly ambitious.
- Work as hard as you can without burning out, and this will eventually bring you to one of the frontiers of knowledge. These look smooth from a distance, but up close they’re full of gaps. Notice and explore such gaps, and if you’re lucky one will expand into a whole new field.
- Take as much risk as you can afford; if you’re not failing occasionally you’re probably being too conservative.
- Seek out the best colleagues.
- Develop good taste and learn from the best examples. Be honest, especially with yourself.
- Exercise and eat and sleep well and avoid the more dangerous drugs.
- When in doubt, follow your curiosity. It never lies, and it knows more than you do about what’s worth paying attention to.