Getting hands-on

One of my favorite things to do is get my hands into something and figure out how it works, whether that’s an app, or a gadget, or a house.

For example, over the past few months I have been renovating our basement, turning an unfinished, dank storage area into a playroom for the kids.  Here is my friend Ned, and my son, as we were pouring the new concrete floor over the summer:

I get completely enraptured by a project when my hands are into it.  There are so many details to figure out, and enjoying the final result, when you know exactly how much work went into it, is so satisfying.

Perhaps most importantly, getting hands on with anything is (for me at least) the best way to learn.  When I learned programming, it was in the context of building apps and websites with friends — I learned as I went, and got deeper and deeper and deeper.  Same goes for every single thing I’ve learned over the years (deeper in tech, legal, investing, crypto, etc).  The more hands-on I am, the more fun I have, and the more I learn.

I have been thinking about this in the context of investing.  Looking back over the years, at the times when I have felt the strongest sense of conviction about an opportunity, it’s the times when I was the most hands-on that I felt it the strongest.  

At USV, we try to be users of every new platform that we invest in (in some cases this is easier than others).  It is easy to say that, but also easy to forget it sometimes, especially in areas that are really new.  But there is just no substitute for approaching things that way, for me at least.

4 comments on “Getting hands-on”

I’ve been hands on since picking up that crayon and drawing that house with a tree next to it and the sun and clouds in the sky!

There’s a huge difference between the steer of someone who’s hands-on made/built something — even if it’s simply knit a jumper or poured concrete — and the steer of “backseat drivers” who’ve never done the thing you want to do and are only giving theoretical perspectives.

health & safety observation. open toed flip flops + heavy plant = no toes. your tees are far too nice for such dirty work.

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