Paul Graham

Former founder, lisp hacker, writer, who started Y Combinator. His views on startups and venture capital have heavily influenced the startup zeitgeist.


Skepticism when building something new occurs in two ways 1) personally (worry of building something that is not good, failing) and 2) externally (others telling you your idea is bad or that your implementation sucks).

We tend to judge early versions of work too harshly due to skepticism. This causes us to fail to push through the ugly early work of ambitious projects (or not try at all). By having a better understanding of what early work looks like we can push past skepticism from ourselves and those around us.

In traditional media, writers write and readers read. On the internet, publishing is nearly free and readers can easily respond in comments, forums, blogs, and so on. This leads to more disagreements merely because it’s easier to say something and people tend to get angry when they disagree on the internet.

Considering there actually are conventional-minded people and independent-minded people in the world, no one considers themselves as conventional-minded. It’s more favorable to think of oneself as independent-minded, perhaps due to the way we value individualism. In Paul Graham’s essay How to think for yourself, he provides an example of this with conspiracy theorists. On their surface they reject some commonly held belief, but the strength of their conviction reveals their conventional-mindedness just within subset of society (not to mention how conspiracy theories tend to be planted by others for political gain).