proof of work

Look for proof of work. Not in the crypto related sense. When I say proof of work, I am talking about looking at what people have actually done as opposed to what they have said they have done or their reputation or status. All of those variables can seem alluring. They can seem like valuable / good things to focus on or underwrite. But they can often lead you astray. Like many essays, this is me projecting. I have made the mistake far too many times of being distracted by all of these factors when judging a person. I look at their status or reputation – instead of just paying attention to their proof of work. The latter is perhaps more uncomfortable to get to – or you have to dig a bit harder / ask more direct questions. But it’s there. And it’s kind of obvious when it’s there. It’s not like actually that confusing or implicit. It can be made explicit.

There are a lot of people who are good at talking. Better at talking than they are actually at doing. And those are the people, for most roles at least, that are dangerous. Dangerous in the sense that you can get fooled by them. They are not malicious. At least not most of the time. They just developed “being a good talker” as a defense mechanism for not being able to actually focus and get shit done.

I think I sometimes fall into this bucket. I’m better at talking about a thing than actually sitting down and grinding to do the thing. That’s kinda embarrassing for me to write about. I feel fraudulent when I do that. At least I am aware of it. Mainly.

I try to think about my say/do ratio. Both for myself but also publicly. Even thinking about publicly is an example of me probably thinking too much about reputational points. Points that don’t really matter compared to just doing great stuff. You don’t need makeup if you are naturally beautiful. In the same way that if you just build amazing things, most everything else will work out.

I need make up. Because, well, my foundational work isn’t often naturally beautiful.

That’s one way I think about it.

The other way I think about it, though, is that aesthetics matter. Stories matter. And the act of storytelling is one that can actually be done with intention. As opposed to say some modes of scientific discoveries which are really hard to mechanistically conjure and predict.

So the note of this essay is really rather simple – in talking to someone, just focus on examples they have actually done. Can they talk about them with confidence? Or is there a massive wind up? Are they scrambling? Are they calm? Are their answers short and succinct? What are they actually good at?


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