Surviving (and thriving) on your own: Know Thyself

I’ve been talking with my friends about the experience of leaving Microsoft to start my own projects. We all have different thoughts and I’m throwing my own into the ring.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Very good thought!! I must be awake from my daily technical enthusiasm and think some life orientation. I will follow your tips. Thanks !

Two things: First, I’m a bit embarrassed to say I just (today) ran across your site. Kudos to you and what your site is “all about”. Second, as someone who left the “easy” life (CTO/partner for a small tech company) 10 months ago to take on a more entreprenurial path, you’ve given me another shot of optimism. Thanks much for you and your site. --GoldRam–

Thanks, glad you liked it! Yeah, the journey isn’t easy but it’s been worthwhile.

Almost feels like reading my own journal. I have been keeping an idealog for over 5 years (first in a word document and now in a Wiki). I love technology and teaching too.

Hi Dorai, thanks for the comment – looking at your blog it seems we have a lot in common! :slight_smile:

Thanks Kalid for these wonderful tips. Though I’ve been thinking on these lines from a long time, I had never acted on it. This article has surely motivated me to take the first step.

Hi Sunil, I’m glad you liked it! Good luck with your pursuits :slight_smile:

[…] Blogging is introspective. I’ve realized my interests after much thought: […]

I’ve been rocking on How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci for my self-knowledge years, but it was only this year that I really started to get the power of using jillions of index cards. I’d like to utilize technology to track ideas at some point, but for now it’s all paper (much of which has ideas about how to track ideas with technology…)

Hi Tom, it sounds like an interesting book, I’ll have to check it out sometime.

Yeah, I’d like to find a good technology solution, but it’s hard to match paper for simplicity, durability & reliability (two things technology isn’t really good at). Right now it’s index cards, notebooks and text files for me :slight_smile:

Funny, I’m an INTP too (at least I was when I took the test a few years ago), and I also keep an ideas list, and try to keep paper by my bed cuz I always come up with ideas when I’m about to fall asleep, and I can’t sleep until I’ve written them down =)

ehh? reasons to be excited about life. hmm… So God, Country and Family is not enough? lol. Just Kidding ya. =D I was just a little confused on what you were trying to say. Was this article about trying to live a happy life?

"Yes, most clouds have silver linings. But sometimes getting hit in the head with a shovel is just getting hit in the head with a shovel. It’s not fun, there’s not much educational value, and your life really is better without it. "

ain’t that the truth, reminds me of a quote which im about to misquote for sure:

“learn from other people’s mistake; cause you ain’t got time to do them all yourself”

Oh BTW, I love the website = ) it’s quite useful. Now, if only someone can explain to me what in the world is a rubidium oscillator. lol. OK thats the end of the rant.


-A very happy person

Hi Luke, thanks for dropping in!

Yeah, this article wasn’t about happiness so much as finding the type of work that could make you happy.

For me, it was realizing that I really enjoy learning, writing and sharing insights with people – these hunches led to the creation of this site, which has made me happy in so many ways, a huge part of which is interacting with people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.

I’ve collected a few thoughts on happiness here, if you’re interested:

And yeah, I have no idea what a rubidium oscillator is, but maybe you can let us know once you figure it out :slight_smile:

Hi again Kalid,

It’s rather amazing to see how some of the things I value the most are so similar to yours such as:

  1. emphasis on self study
  2. attempt to see the "big picture"
    to name a few.

But one of the things I’ve found rather challenging (which I hope to get better at by trying to understand how you go about dealing with similar situations) is understanding mathematical concepts from the ground up. For instance, I’ve been struggling with the concepts of Linear Algebra for quite sometime now. Sure there are a ton of tutorials, wikis etc out there but none seem to focus on anything other that the sheer mechanics of it often times filled with completely abstract thoughts and ideas. When faced with a situation such as this, how do you go about gaining insights on the topic that eventually lead you to write these amazing guides?

I guess what I’m trying to get at is - rather that wait for someone (such as yourself) to write an “aha” inspiring article on the subject matter I’m having difficulty with, how do I go about gaining such insights on my own? Do you just pick up a book on the article and start pouring over it? Do you do extensive research on the subject matter from eclectic sources on the web, library etc or is it just a combination of these?

I’ll leave you with this popular quotation that I get reminded of when faced with questions such as the above :slight_smile:
“Give a man a fish; you have fed him for today. Teach a man to fish; and you have fed him for a lifetime"

Oh and thanks for all those mind blowing articles by the way!

  • Gokul

Hi Gokul, thanks for the comment! I love chatting with people with a similar interest in learning :).

I don’t really have a set method, it’s more trial-and-error over time. I’ve learned to start writing down my “aha” moments as they come (I can’t really force them) and I organize them by topic. So I have a text file for “calculus” in general, “limits”, algebra, etc. I just write down big and little epiphanies as they happen and hope to weave strands together.

When studying a subject I’ll look on Wikipedia and try to make analogies to what I already know. Most things fall into this pattern.

Linear algebra, for example, as a way of transforming inputs into outputs. The transformation can be a rotation, translation, scaling (basic Photoshop effects) and sometimes more exotic things. This helps me “get” how you arrange matrices, as the outputs of one stage must match the inputs of another (old article on this here:

It’s been a while since I’ve had to search for insights under pressure of a test, I don’t know if I could find them on a schedule. Currently I read and write down what clicks, trying to figure out why the typical example didn’t work (Was it too simple? Too complex? Not addressing a corner case?).

You’re welcome for the articles, they’re fun to make :).

Hi Kalid,

I enjoyed reading your blogs. You are such a good technical communicator. The things you listed that you enjoy/are good at such as understanding technology and improving communication and usability are actually we technical writers strive to achieve.

I will come back for sure to read your blogs. Keep up the good work!


Hi Tao, thanks for the comment! I’ve always enjoyed trying to understand / explain things simply, appreciate the kind words.

I just discovered this article by reading through the archives. First off, fantastic site, I completely agree with you about the way math is taught. I find myself having to relearn everything I did before because I did not understand it. I simply memorized the equations and how to solve the, I took no time to understand the importance of what I was doing.

Second (and more relevant to this article), the “What should I do with my life?” link is a bit iffy. It now leads to a search function with articles like “acing a job interview!”. Shame, the original article sounds interesting.

Finally, looking at Steve Pavlina’s website and his recent articles, it looks like he’s clearly off into pseudoscience land. One of his most recent blog entries is “The #1 Mistake People Make When Using the Law of Attraction”.

Anyway, I really appreciate the work you do, and I eagerly wait for the next update.