My name is David Strauß.

I create useful software, write once in a while and run edgy circle.

Notes on "Pendulums, Tea, and Jack Cheng"

Some pieces from Justin Kropps interview with Jack Cheng I would like to remember. If you have time, read the original interview!

“Balance is a tricky word, because I think most people see it as this moment frozen in time, when the two sides of the scale are in equilibrium. To me, balance implies movement. A more appropriate instrument would be a pendulum—constantly swinging back and forth. With a scale, stasis is desirable, but with a pendulum, stasis is death.” Jack Cheng, 2011

Speaking of balance, don’t think of a scale. Use a pendulum as metaphor because life is never in statis, there are always ups and downs.

“We bring our personal philosophies, consciously or not, to everything we do. The collection of philosophies, the way they overlap and rub against each other, makes up a company’s culture. We currently have seven people on staff and a full-time contractor, and every additional person has changed our culture in a significant way. You notice it when someone is out sick or working from home—the entire office has a different vibe, turning more serious or more whimsical depending on who’s there and who’s not. It’s a tremendous learning experience being around people with shared interests and varied viewpoints. We’re not going to agree on everything, but many times we come away with new frames for thinking about our life and work.” Jack Cheng, 2011

A team is not the persons on the team. A team is the culture formed by every single person on the team.

“Know yourself. Understand your feelings and desires, work to figure out what you really want. Read more. Especially fiction. Accept yourself for all your talents and flaws. Remind yourself why you’re doing this, that an entrepreneur in the purest sense is a person who takes responsibility for himself. A person who takes his life into his own hands. Let go of how you expect things to happen and pay attention to the miracle of the world unfolding in front of you.” Jack Cheng, 2011

Take life in your own hands.

“I like lo-fi tools because they tend to enforce modal constraints. When you’re reviewing a printed sheet of paper with a pen in your hand, you’re more or less locked into an editing mindset.” Jack Cheng, 2011

Find ways to lock your mindest when you have to get work done. This is especially hard when working on a computer with internet access.

“Life is what shapes us and work is how we take that and affect change on the world. We’re back to the pendulum again. Just like traveling and freelancing, just like serving clients and building products, it’s ultimately about the way the two flow into each other, the back-and-forth motion. Life and work are never strictly separate, not masses on opposite ends of a scale. They’re two states of the same thing. And you’re the clockmaker, fine-tuning the motion between those states. It’s up to you to keep the clock regular.

Once again, take your life into your own hands.

I’m a big proponent of journaling, because it builds self-awareness, which is always the first step to improvement. I’ve been journaling almost daily for two and a half years now, and it helps me recognize the irregularities. I believe we all have a natural understanding of the appropriate timing for ourselves but the problem for most of us is that it’s buried under layers of false expectations and misplaced obligations. Honest journaling helps you face your own fear and neglect.” Jack Cheng, 2011

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