Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Money is Time

Money Is Time 
Living in the Bay Area where housing prices are insane, tradeoffs are very real. Pick any three - a good school district, a reasonable commute, adequate space, and a house less than a million dollars.

While thinking about these tradeoffs, it occurred to me that we are essentially traders in time. We:

  • put in our time 
  • to earn money 
  • to spend it on things 
  • that we didn't have time to spend making ourselves.

And then we make tradeoffs (where to live, how big of a house to have, etc) that help us allocate how we spend the money we earned, during the remainder of our time.  Often we put in more time at work so that we can have more money to buy more things.

But what is "buying" really? Money is only a store of value. Really we trade our time for other people's time - the time they spend learning how to do what they do, and the time they spend doing it.

Here's another way of looking at it. There is some lucky squirrel out there who absolutely loves what they do. When you slog away at a job you tolerate, to earn some money, so that you can afford some luxury that they provide (maybe they design clothes, maybe they cook food, maybe they build neat computer programs) - what you're really doing is subsidizing their hobby.

These thoughts were interrupted by my 20-month-old daughter insisting that I "play blocks".  And then it hit me. She is not part of this ridiculous self-referencing charade. She spends her time (almost) exactly the way she wants.

Somewhere along the way, we forget the big picture, and assume that we have to have certain things. And we give away 53% of our waking hours without even putting up a fight.

If you could start from scratch, reboot; what would you spend your time doing? 

Why not turn things around and spend your days doing what you love to do? I'm sure there will be enough fools out there willing to subsidize your hobby.

PS: In case you're wondering; I consider myself a pretty lucky squirrel. There was a several month stretch recently when I didn't. But then I decided that I was going to find people to subsidize my hobby.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Crazy Scifi Future is here.

Almost eight years ago, I got the chance to help bootstrap amazon's development center in Bangalore. One of the things I did was go on a recruiting trip to the Indian School of Business - one of the premier business schools in India.
As an 'out of the box' thinking question, I asked all the candidates: "Imagine that 3D printers become cheap enough to be available in your corner store. How should Amazon react to take advantage of the new reality".

I posed it as a thought experiment; a sci-fi question that seemed completely futuristic.

And here we are today in 2012. The MakerBot Replicator 2 costs just under $2,200. That's about the same price as the early laser printers.

I also just heard Chris Anderson talk about his new book - "Makers - The New Industrial Revolution" at google today and it blew my mind.

We're there. In that crazy sci-fi future.

Some quotes and links from his talk:

The guy who runs techshop is the same guy that used to run kinkos
 If you're a toy company, this should fill you with terror 
Hiring today is not about talent optimization, but about access optimization
and some random links that I want to refer back to later

Ronald Coase's Theory of the Firm
Lego Digital Designer