Paying Your Dues
Tonight, as I was cleaning out an old file cabinet, I came across a resume from early on in my career. As I read through my laughable list of achievements and expertly enhanced job descriptions I couldn’t help but be taken back.
Back to when I was just getting started paying my dues.
I wasn’t born a founder and Managing Director of OATV. Quite the contrary.
My early career was a series of jobs, in the truest sense, that laid the foundation for my future self. Strip away some of the flowery wordsmithing on that resume and you’ll see stints in a mail room, answering calls on customer service lines, hardcore cubicle time writing endless documents and presentations, product manager and, eventually, founder and entrepreneur.
That time spent paying my dues, tho often frustrating, infuriating and, occasionally, demoralizing was invaluable. Every line in that resume tonight meant something very real to me. Time learning how to deal with inferior superiors. Or time spent clinching my teeth and biding my time, waiting for just the right opportunity to jump. Occasionally, it was also learning the ropes from people who really knew their craft and took time out to share what they’d learned with me.
There are many people behind each line of that resume. People who laughed me off and others who genuinely believed in me. In the earliest days of my career, even the slightest bit of encouragement or praise meant absolutely everything to me. Regardless of my titles, or my bosses, I always believed in myself. Having others see something in me added fuel to that fire.
In a time when everyone believes they’re ready to be a CEO, there’s something to be said for paying your dues.
I’m certainly glad I did. And still feel I’m paying them every day.
☞ Peter Thiel’s CS183: Startup - Class 10 Notes Essay
Here is an essay version of class notes from Class 10 of CS183: Startup. Errors and omissions are mine.
Marc Andreessen, co-founder and general partner of the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, joined this class as a guest speaker. Credit for good stuff goes to him and Peter. I have tried to be accurate. But note that this is not a transcript of the conversation.
Class 10 Notes Essay—After Web 2.0
I. Hello World
It all started about 40 years ago with ARPANET. Things were asynchronous and fairly low bandwidth. Going “online” could be said to have begun in 1979 with the CompuServe model. In the early ‘80s AOL joined in with its take on the walled garden model, offering games, chat rooms, etc. Having laid the foundations for the modern web, the two companies would merge in ’97.
The Mosaic browser launched in 1993. Netscape announced its browser on October 13th, 1994 and filed to go public in less than a year later. And so began the World Wide Web, which would define the ‘90s in all kinds of ways.
“Web 1.0” and “2.0” are terms of art that can be sort of hard to pin down. But to speak of the shift from 1.0 to 2.0 is basically to speak of what’s changed from decade to decade. When things got going content was mostly static. Now the emphasis is on user generated content, social networking, and collaboration of one sort or another.
Relative usage patterns have shifted quite a bit too. In the early ‘90s, people used FTP. In the late ‘90s they were mostly web browsing or connecting to p2p networks. By 2010, over half of all Internet usage was video transmission. These rapid transitions invite the question of what’s next for the Internet. Will the next era be the massive shift to mobile, as many people think? It’s a plausible view, since many things seem possible there. But also worth putting in context is that relative shifts don’t tell the full story. Total Internet usage has grown dramatically as well. There are perhaps 20x more users today than there were in the late ‘90s. The ubiquity of the net creates a sense in which things today are very, very different.
II. The Wild West
The Internet has felt a lot like the Wild West for last 20 years or so. It’s been a frontier of sorts—a vast, open space where people can do almost anything. For the most part, there haven’t been too many rules or restrictions. People argue over whether that’s good or bad. But it raises interesting questions. What enables this frontier to exist as it does? And is the specter of regulation going to materialize? Is everything about to change?
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