Build Things You Can Show

Feb 7, 2014

If you are interested in the business of software at all, you should be familiar with Patrick McKenzie. This week, his newsletter, while a bit long, was exceptional.

Take the time to read it for yourself.

In it, Patrick talks about about working openly and avenues to create better opportunities for yourself.

Prefer to work on things you can show. Prefer to work where people can see you. Prefer to work on things you can own.

Work you can show off, though, is prima facie evidence of your skills. After your portfolio includes it, your ability to sell your skills gets markedly better.

This is so important, and something that I have neglected a lot in the past 3 - 5 years. While I used to spend a lot of time just making stuff and showing it to people. I got away from that and fell into a rut of just working (for the man) and not creating anything valuable for me. I would argue that when I am not creating anything of value for me, I can’t possibly create anything of value for my employer/client.

…establish an expectation early that you’re simply going to talk about what you’re doing. I think at Fog Creek / Stack Exchange they call this “producing artifacts” …

Recently, I got back to this. There are a few posts out there describing the things I’ve been relearning as I build tools and personal apps (I Built a Thing, Async JavaScript Doesn’t Work Like I Thought, Embarrassed and Proud). It’s a little scary because I risk looking like I don’t know what I am doing. I really won’t know for a while if it will backfire on me, but I hope it helps someone and shows a little about the things I’m interested in and enjoy working on.

I suggest rebuilding the wheel. Build tools for yourself. Explore and learn. Then tell everyone.