Borski Web entrepreneur and security/UX enthusiast Thu, 06 Oct 2011 05:15:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What Steve Jobs meant to me. Thu, 06 Oct 2011 05:12:44 +0000 It seems somehow fitting that after not having posted in five months or so, this is the first time I’ve really felt an urge to express myself. It’s not that I haven’t cared, it’s that I’ve been so busy that I haven’t had time to think about my own thoughts.

The passing of Steve Jobs today had a profound effect on me, more than I even probably realize, for a number of reasons. This is a man who inspired me. One of the biggest reasons I went into this crazy world of entrepreneurship and starting my own company is because of the existence of people like Steve Jobs (Woz as well, but that’s a story for another time). Jobs built a company I massively respected; one that cared about its users above all else. It’s fitting that I learned of his passing on a device he dreamed up, and am writing this post on a different device he helped envision.

I interned for Apple for a summer, and what I learned there somewhat surprised me; Steve Jobs wasn’t an idol to his employees, he was an inspiration. Each and every one of the people with whom I worked believed in what Steve and Apple stood for. We held the same ideals.

I’ll never forget causing Steve to spill food all over himself, accidentally, in Caffe Macs. I thought, for sure, I was going to get fired. Instead, he looked me up and down, glared at my Pixar shirt, grinned, turned around, and went to get more food. I cleaned up, of course, but that was that; not something worth giving a second thought. There were more important things to be done, industries to be revolutionized, worlds to be changed.

I once called Steve ‘Dude.’ Yeah, seriously. Again, he laughed it off and walked away. This was not a man to be bothered with proper salutations.

We had an executive Q+A session with Steve during my internship, and he was honest, down-to-earth, and told it like it was. I wanted to come up to him and ask him a few things afterward, but everyone told me not to. Of course, being dumb, I did anyway. And you know what? He gave me the time of day. We spoke about Apple, where it’s going, things I hated about the iPhone, what I liked and didn’t like about the Caffe, the internship program, and why I wanted to start a company. He told me to work for Apple. But if I wasn’t going to work for Apple, to start a company. You have no idea how much that meant to me. And yet, I didn’t realize quite how much of an effect it had until today. I wish I had sent him a thank you note, now that I’ve started a company, and am going down this path, but I suppose sometimes it takes a terrible loss to realize what you’ve been missing all along.

Did he remember my name? Almost undoubtedly not. But that’s the thing with visionaries: they almost always have a greater effect on you than you have on them. All you can hope to do is become a visionary yourself, and have that great of an effect on someone else down the line.

Be the person you want to look up to. Create, build, and change the world. Question the status quo.

It’s what Steve Jobs would do. I think.

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How to meet interesting people (with Olark) Wed, 02 Mar 2011 22:44:29 +0000 If you haven’t heard of Olark: it’s a tool that allows anyone running a website to interact with their users in real-time, by giving the user a little chat box to talk to you on Jabber with.¬†Almost all the startups I know that use Olark tell me that it’s invaluable for seeing what questions their users have and addressing them.

I tend to use Olark in a less traditional manner. It’s possible I’m entirely deluded in thinking I’m the only one who uses it in this manner, so let me know if you do this too.

Every time I’m on a startup’s website and I notice they have an Olark chat (or something similar), I click it, almost by instinct. I think I just have a very high predisposition for clicking on things that allow me to interact with people of any sort, since the internet in general is so impersonal. It takes minimal extra time for me to click on it as I browse the site, and I get to talk to someone as I do it. In general, someone is usually on, and while some people would feel bad about bothering the people sitting on the other end of the chat (usually the founders), I figure they’re putting themselves out there to be bothered. If they are too busy, the onus is on them to tell me so. Usually I’ll start the chat with a “Hey, I’m Borski. I just got here. How are you?” and it progresses from there.

In short, I usually end up meeting (virtually, of course) the founders this way, and it’s served as an invaluable tool for networking. I’m not the kind of guy who generally asks for help or needs it when browsing a website; I’ll just click around and find stuff to do or figure out something I don’t understand. But I am the kind of guy who likes to meet people and interact with the people who built it.

Olark has gotten me introductions to other entrepreneurs, two job offers, people with whom I consistently chat now, and plenty of advice. I suspect most people don’t use Olark for this. I’ve met people who have dated my ex-girlfriends, almost dated other ex-girlfriends, gone to the same school, know the same people. It’s yet another example of showing how small of a world this startup community really is.

It really is, for me, sort of a paradigm shift; the people running the company are no longer just the “guys on top of the totem pole” or the “celebrities on TechCrunch.” They’re just regular dudes, like you and me, whom I get to talk to and who have an interesting product.

Have you had similar experiences with Olark? Am I the only crazy “social butterfly” who likes talking to people? Did I just invent a new method of networking with companies and founders? Or does everyone else already do this and I’m just late to the ballgame?

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Furniture, or lack thereof Thu, 27 Jan 2011 17:23:14 +0000 I’m 23 years old. I have a girlfriend, but no mortgage, no kids, and not very much debt. Still, I’m scared out of my wits to quit a job and start trying to strike out on my own. Why? Furniture.

There is the physical furniture, of course; that which you sit on, sleep on, eat on, etc. I have a lot of physical furniture, but these are things that can be bought and sold. The bigger question is that of the metaphorical furniture that I don’t want to become. At MIT there were many different types of people, but the majority could be classified into two groups: the doer’s and the non-doer’s; the movers and the furniture, if you will.

Furniture takes up space but is essentially immobile. It generally doesn’t tend to do much except be used. Movers are action people; they move furniture around, rearrange them, reorganize, build new furniture, etc. My entire life, I’ve been a mover. I was always restless, never content, always pushing to do more and be better. Whenever I saw myself becoming furniture; that is, whenever I found it easier to watch TV than actually work on something people would enjoy, I would do whatever I could to fix it. That’s exactly what I’m doing now.

I’m currently employed in a position very few people are lucky enough to attain; the work is great, the people around me are brilliant, and the reason we do the work we do is meaningful. And yet, it isn’t fulfilling. After much whiteboarding and flowcharting, I think I’ve figured out why: I’m not learning anything. The things I came here to learn are not the things I’m getting out of it right now. That said, I have nothing but the highest of praise for the team; anyone would be lucky to work with such a group of brilliant minds. It just isn’t fulfilling, because I’m not learning as much as I’d like, and I find myself becoming furniture more and more. Everyday it becomes harder and harder to wake up in the morning and go to work. It’s begun feeling like a job.

So as a result, I’m resigning at the end of February to work on some side projects. Do I know exactly what I’m going to work on yet? No. But I have some ideas, and that’s where every company starts; working on things people want. I’ve been saying I’m going to start a company again for years, but I haven’t actually done it, because my job was pretty fulfilling. Now that it is no longer, the stars are aligning.

With that in mind, I’ve begun this blog. I foresee it chronicling a journey, if you will, of one man’s ascents and descents in this crazy world of entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency. Hopefully I don’t bore you to death, and hopefully this serves as a decent introduction to how I think and what I’ll be thinking about.

Feel free to get in touch; I’m always in the mood for meeting someone new. Maybe we can even get together, hack on some stuff, and learn.

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