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35 Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success From 35 Of Today’s Best Entrepreneurs

On Wall Street they have this concept of a rainmaker.

You know the type, popularized through movies like “Wall Street, Money Never Sleeps”, and others.

You can learn a lot, perhaps the core essentials of an industry, by studying its rainmakers, and comparing what they say and what they do.

Take politics, for instance.

Now, in that field, the top players almost always say one thing and do another. Maybe that’s how to win in that messed up field.

What about entrepreneurship?

This is naturally the field I care about most because the Hackishword Hackers are quintessential entrepreneurs.

The brilliant Moussa Sarr and myself are doing a lot of entrepreneurial work with startups, you can check out UnicornPoach and some other secret stuff that we are not allowed to disclose.

Learning from the best is definitely one of the things I’ve had in my sights for a long time.

Working with startups is hard work, and starting a business from scratch prompts you to answer over and over again why you do what you do. Money? Passion? Fame? Notoriety? Boredom?

How can you bring together your competing motives to actually synthesize something solid that a good section of society will feel passionately enough about to let you lead them on a journey whose destination even you, the entrepreneur, are only vaguely knowledgeable about?

It’s a tall order, especially if it’s your first time being an entrepreneur.

So I thought I’d share with you some of the best nuggets of entrepreneurial wisdom I’ve come across from some of the best entrepreneurs and maybe you’ll take away some good lessons in the process.


Tony Robbins

Quite simply, the secret of success is modeling those who are successful. You can learn from the best. Whatever you need to do, find a guy or group of people who have accomplished that goal, and copy them. Study them, find out what it is that they do that makes them achieve those sorts of results, and do the same for yourself. One good way to get started on the goal of making it big in Nashville, you know, is actually getting on the bus and heading to Nashville in the first place!


Jack Ma

Success, without a doubt, is hard, hard work. So there is no substitute for persistence. Once you hit on a good idea, be as persistent as a bed bug, it typically takes a long time to see the results of all your hard work. Hitting the good idea is the easy part, seeing it through to completion is the part of champions.

Gary Vaynerchuk

You have to be willing to hustle harder than 99.9% of the planet. Hustle when other people are at the football game and at happy hour and partying. Hustle til you make it. If you’re an entrepreneur there’s no other way.


Elon Musk

Think from first principles. Challenge the status quo. Don’t accept good enough. Always seek for criticism. I know this sounds harsh but you have to do it, from your friends, from anyone who has good knowledge about what you are trying to do.


Moussa Sarr

Always do intellectual stuff. Challenge yourself. Each day do one thing harder than the previous day. Learn learn learn. Learning is underestimated, but in the accomplishment of any great thing, you can be sure while everybody else was merely watching, the eventual winner was doing a whole lot of learning.


Paul Graham

Ship the code and actually go out there! So many so-called entrepreneurs get in the comfort zone of just working endlessly on a product that no-one ever sees, and this is a surefire way to sabotage your own success.


Amy Hoy

Take baby steps and actually launch. So many people get stuck trying to build the “perfect” thing. The entrepreneurs who win are the people who are willing to throw caution to the wind, and just release their tiniest possible product to the market, and then learn from the market’s reactions.


Warren Buffet

You have to be willing to swim against the tide. Just because everybody else is doing it one way doesn’t mean you have to do it that way. In fact, to achieve entrepreneurial success, you often have to rewire your brain in the opposite direction.


Daniel DiPiazza

Be willing to hustle. Success has very few shortcuts, and the way to get there is really to do massive amounts of work. Every day, don’t stop. Come out and hustle and give your A-game, every single day. It doesn’t matter you don’t feel 100% on that day. You’re fighting in the most brutal league, and that’s the A-League, so be willing to hustle.

Zed Shaw

A lot of people talk about code, write about code, think about code, and even daydream about code — everything, that is, except code. You don’t really need anyone to tell you that’s the entirely wrong approach to getting work and startups done do you? Get the code written. Write code! Then more code! Yeah, you heard that right. If you don’t actually write code, we’ll simply stop paying attention to you right now. A good place to begin would be “Learn Code the Hard Way.”


Chris Guillebeau

Think long and hard about what makes you unique, then build a business around that. There is something powerful about having a unique story that sticks in the minds of people. Be aware though that most people you tell your story to won’t care either way. That doesn’t matter, because your job is to find the 5% of the population who care about the story you’re trying to tell.


Steve Jobs

History is made by those who take their chances. If you’re actually too weak, too wimpy, and too scared to stand up and make your point, you might as well give up before you begin. To change the world, you’ve got to actually be brave and bold enough to try. If you don’t succeed, at least you’ll know you tried it, and it didn’t work.


Bill Gates

Dedicate yourself to your work. If you are actually trying to make a contribution to the world, you had better become a master of whatever industry you’re trying to go into. Don’t rest until you have totally mastered it. You have to have a deep drive to see things through to their ultimate conclusion. If you’re making an operating system, might as well make it the operating system the entire world runs on. That sort of mindset.

Donald Trump

Pay particular attention to the things that matter, and spend very little time on the things that don’t matter nearly as much. If you go into business but you’re not actually willing to do the homework and read the fine print of your deals and check out potential partners, you’ll have a hard time keeping your shirt on your back. So immerse yourself totally. In business, as in a deal, it’s all or nothing.


Brian Tracy

Be committed to learning a ton of new skills if you are going to try entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur is a guy who takes the shortest path possible to learning the most practical skills to make his business a success. Every skill you have to learn, is learnable. So take the time. Read books, talk to experts, watch documentaries, invest in yourself.


Yaro Starak

Learn from other smart people around. Quite often, people think you have to stay in one job all your life, working a 9 to 5, not realizing it’s your life, and other people have found alternative ways of making a contribution. But it’s a learning process, and one good way to shorten the curve is to learn from others around you. Learn from people who have already walked the path and made it work for them.


Lewis Howes

Don’t accept the limitations that you might have placed on yourself. Just because you haven’t achieved your childhood goal doesn’t mean you cannot achieve what matters to you in life. You have to just very consciously define what true success means to you, come up with the goals that align with who you really are, and go for that. You’ll find more success on that path than you ever dreamed possible.


Glen Allsop

The value of hard work cannot be overemphasized. Frequently, people set goals that are not big enough because they’re not willing to stretch themselves. To be successful, however, you really have to be bold, go for the big, crazy goals that everyone else is afraid of, and you will see wonderful things begin to happen.


Dan Kennedy

What trips up many entrepreneurs, quite often, is simply a lack of knowledge about marketing. Before you are even in the business of doing what you do for a living, you are first and foremost in the business of marketing what you do for a living. Subtle disctinction, and, sadly, many entrepreneurs have missed this crucial piece of knowledge. Make a serious and concerted study of marketing if you want to actually have a good time while you make a go at running your own business.



Optimize for programmer happiness. Making a good product starts with the actual process through which you get to the product eventually. And if you are being miserable all the way to the actual product, chances are, your users are gona be miserable as well using it. So begin with yourself. What makes you happy? Why are you doing what you are doing? Optimize for programmer happiness to begin with. You can’t go wrong with that.


Rob Walling

Doing a startup or being an entrepreneur does not necessarily mean being a venture-backed company, and spending hundreds of thousands on your offices and initial hires. You’ve got to be willing to begin small. Bootstrap! Too often, entrepreneurs hold themselves back because in their mind they cannot proceed unless they have the reassuring hand of YCombinator or the latest popular incubator on board. You can do better than that.


Steve Wozniak

It’s no secret that Steve Wozniak and the Wright Brothers are our favorite entrepreneurs here at The Hackishword Hackers, With Elon Musk and Steve Jobs close behind. So this means get your Wozniak on and get hustling, much fun awaits! And oh, learn some electronics while you’re at it!


Mark Anastasi

To make it as an entrepreneur, you need to implement faster than the ordinary person. Speed of implementation is absolutely essential because those who implement faster get to fail faster, and as a side-effect, get to figure out much faster what doesn’t work, and try more things and find out faster what actually works! As an entrepreneur, if you are not implementing, you’re falling behind!


Naomi Dunford

Marketing is important for any entrepreneur to grow their business. Marketing comes in so many flavors though, so you have a wide selection of tools and techniques you can use to your liking. These include, serious, very consistent blogging, serious very consistent public outreach, serious very consistent podcasting, and a dozen or more such approaches. If you don’t like some of them, pick the others. If you don’t like any of them, however, now you’ve got a major problem in trying to make it as an entrepreneur.



Be your own man and don’t depend on anybody. Dependence dulls the mind and kills the creativity. Besides, when you are working for someone else, you are at their mercy. You can lose your job any time. You can fall out with people. Same with creditors. If you owe people money, they can call the shots in your life. That’s no place to be if you’re serious about entrepreneurship. Go out there on your own dime and hustle your way to the top. Or die trying!


Steve Ballmer

Do it with passion. If your employees and your followers can’t feel the passion, if you can’t fire up the troops to want to take on the world with you, you’ve lost half the battle before you even began. Your passion for your products, for your business, for your customers, and for the people who work for you must be core facets of your business if you are to compete against world class competition in the marketplace of ideas.


Peter Diamandis

Embrace the opportunities available to you now. It’s all too easy to get bogged down looking at challenges and seeing the difficulty in every opportunity. Instead, if you decide to act now, you can have a hand in crafting the future and making it a much better place than the past ever was. And that only happens if you decide to take action today.


Seth Godin

Choose yourself. I mean, what are you waiting for? You can be lost in the crowd, no-one noticing you, and hesitant to take action because you have not yet been picked, no-one has written you back, they didn’t call you, they didn’t open the doors for you. If you accept those doors slammed shut in your face, you will limit your God-given potential. Instead, go out there and start doing stuff like you already picked yourself and that’s all that counts! You’ll have a lot more fun too!


Grant Cardone

People don’t take nearly enough action. What you should really be doing is taking 10X the action. Come up with massive goals 10X the size of your normal everyday goals, then take 10X the action you think it will take. That’s how you achieve major breakthroughs, that’s how you change your life in the course of a single year.


Sean Ogle

Today the possibilities with entrepreneurship are really broad and varied. It makes less and less sense to work in a cubicle in a normal job. So if you are up for a little adventure, you should really just make a go for it, become location independent, explore the world and build a business while you are doing it. In the process you will make new friends, learn new languages and build something you can be proud of.


Steve Pavlina

We all have some sort of skills that can be applied in an entrepreneurial bent. If you know some code, you can be quite dangerous, for example. But also if you know business skills, coaching, whatever. You just need to make the decision and contribute value to someone else’s life in a way they are willing to pay you for it, and you’re in business.


Benjamin P. Hardy.

There’s a term called “Slip-stream time-hacking”, which is all about finding the slip-stream. In the slip-stream, time moves a whole lot slower because you, the person, are moving a whole lot faster. So a person who is moving 5 times as fast, can get 5 times as many things done than the person who is moving at the normal speed. So you essentially gain 4 days for every one that you use up. Once you start exploring the possibilities and applying slip-stream time-hacking to your own entrepreneurial adventures, you will make more progress, faster, than you ever thought possible.


Lisa Sasevich

Entrepreneurial success often comes down to if you can make the sale, and this is a key area that can help an entrepreneur in today’s environment. You have to know how to get your audience to trust you and your solution to their problem, and give them a reason why you are the ideal person to guide them. How you position yourself, as an authority, or just another sales guy, can really make or break the sale. Spend some time learning about the sales process so you can be more effective right off the bat.


Joanna Penn

Fight resistance and get things done. Your work often won’t be sharply defined whilst it’s in the process of emerging. You need to just slog it through those times and trust that the final result will be worth it. This applies in writing as much as in marketing or developing any product for the market.

Richard Branson

You need a little flair and lots of drive if you’re gonna do this. The drive, to make it through the tough parts, and long nights of work releasing your latest product, and the flair to make things fun again and lighten up. It helps if you enjoy what you are doing and if you can commit to your ideas for the long term.


Hire Me for Your Blogging



This is Tomahawk.


You likely stumbled upon this page because you need a blogger. Have no worries, you’re in the right place.


Feel free to reach out to me: so we can discuss the work you need to get done.






Do-It-Yourself SEO tips from a SEO Consultant

When thinking about what advice to give my clients as a SEO Consultant, I’m focused on giving advice that can hopefully educate them and teach them something about the Search engine optimization process.

The same applies to Social Media Strategy. By teaching them and educating them whilst working through a site optimization, I want to enable them to be able to apply the ideas themselves in a latter setting.

In other words, not just give the man a fish, but also teach him how to fish so he can go fishing himself next time he sees something worth optimizing.

Here are some of the recurring themes that you will want to keep in mind as you try to optimize your own web site for Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Yandex and any of the other major search engines.

Learn SEO from a SEO Consultant

Learn SEO and social media strategy

SEO Do-it-yourself Tip 1: Watch your competitors closely

You need to think like a sniper in Marine warfare. A good sniper keeps careful track of his enemies’ positions and their movement. When they move at last, he wants to already be a step ahead.

If you’re running an commerce store on Shopify, focused on, say, men’s clothes, well, you have a ton of competitors.

That’s not all negative. On the plus side, you have a ton of SEO case-studies. You want to figure out which of this subgroup of competitors is doing best in your niche, and then examine their tactics closely.

Then turn around and implement the same tactics yourself. Are they getting media coverage by contacting press and showcasing unique products? Well, you start doing exactly that. Do this, and you’ll likely see an outsize boost in your results.

SEO Do-it-yourself Tip 2: Don’t just produce content. Spend even more time on promotion

Along with blogging, you’ll typically want a solid social media strategy that could involve Facebook, Twitter and Vine. With every blog post, you create related content and promote it on these or other social media networks, and drive some traffic back to your main content.

I also suggest reaching out to bloggers in a variety of fields, and impressing them with your content so you can get editorial links. Also promote content actively to your email list and personal network. Some of your own friends who work in the space could benefit from tips that you release in your content. Share widely, and share generously.

SEO Do-it-yourself Tip 3: Self Education is the key to becoming a better SEO 

Like many entrepreneurs and business-people, you might have very little time to focus on search engine optimization, but the fact remains that you do need to invest in your own education. This will yield rewards in the long run.

Good SEO knowledge and staying up-to-date with effective techniques can grow your business so much faster than just focusing on “operations”, all those other things you do in order to run your business.

Carve out an hour or two each week, preferably each day, to learn some good SEO tips and other information.

Practice SEO, Become Better at SEO

Practise SEO, Become Better at SEO

SEO Do-it-yourself Tip 4: Good SEO is practical SEO

That said about learning search engine optimization techniques, you’ll want to experiment with the new techniques you learn. This is the only surefire way to reinforce the learning, and on the pure alpha side, to reap the benefits of all your newly-acquired knowledge.

Keep your mind sharp, and your practice even sharper, through constantly putting into practice all your newfangled knowledge.

SEO practice makes you better

SEO practice makes you better

What do you think of these do-it-yourself SEO tips? Post in the comments below or reach out to me on email:


How to be an entrepreneur: the essential guide

Few occupations are better than being an entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, the world is your oyster, and you can pursue whatever opportunities take your fancy.

Why then is it that few choose the path not taken and do not become entrepreneurs?

How to be an entrepreneur, the simplified version

How to be an entrepreneur, the simplified version

Most likely fear is one such reason, along with a host of other good reasons like working for a company whose mission you passionately believe in, and so forth.

Here his my essential guide to be an entrepreneur and to do entrepreneurship well.

Learn Marketing

Marketing is the process of communicating your message and brand in the marketplace.

A traditional job, unless it is in the marketing department of your company, or the sales department, is generally not good preparation to master this skill.

Entrepreneurs I respect like Brian Tracy and Jim Rohn have talked about the importance of marketing and sales.

You’ll want to look them up and learn a thing or two about marketing from these guys.

Quit your job, or start a business on the side

It’s hard to be an entrepreneur whilst you’re employed full-time. It requires a certain dogged tenacity to take your entrepreneurial venture seriously if you’re only spending a few hours a week on it. But it can be done.

Consider starting your business on the side, then, once it becomes profitable, drop your other commitments so you can double down on your new entrepreneurial ventures.

Develop grit or: entrepreneurial stamina

Develop grit or: entrepreneurial stamina

Develop a reputation, and more importantly, capability, for grit

Grit is the ability to exercise mental strength to an extent perhaps not routinely demanded of all people equally at all times.

As an entrepreneur, I’ve had to fight competition, nip problems in the bud, stare failure in the face, and still make the correct call, to move on, and always operate with little in the way of a safety net.

This is not your mama’s kindergarten.

This is entrepreneurship.

Blood, sweat and tears.

I urge you to develop the mental character to sustain yourself in the marathon of your life.

Focus single-mindedly on growing your business

Focus is essential. If you can’t focus you’re as good as dead in this business.

And growth is essential. If you don’t grow you’ll diminish and get crushed under by your competitors.

Needless to say, you need to focus on growth. Focus on growing your reputation. Grow your client list. Grow your sales. Grow your revenue. Grow every good thing that can be grown in your business.

Learn Sales

You didn’t think marketing was enough, did you?

You gonna need to get down-and-dirty with sales.

Think like a salesman. Yes, act like one. Peddle your wares, wherever you might be. I don’t care. Social Media: Facebook, Youtube, Vine, Pinterest, wherever.

If people are there, you should be there. And if you’re there, you’re never without your product or service in hand. If networking in person, have a well-designed business card you hand out to all new acquaintances. Over time, this will bring in a steady stream of leads to your business.

If you don’t care enough about your product to sell it 24/7, then you’re probably attempting to sell the wrong product, and should focus on something different.

Read like a PhD Student. Well, a good PhD student.

That means stacks and stacks of books, treatises, academic works, works by practitioners, works by theoreticians, works by men of action, any kind of useful works in your field.

The more you read, the more your mind becomes exercised to spot opportunities where others only see challenges.

Typically, some people will dismiss new opportunities when they first see them. That’s because a lot of times, these people are not reading up on the latest available information. They’re probably making decisions on the basis of facts that existed 10-20 years ago and will therefore miss the turn of the tide when it comes. Don’t be like that.

Read like a real-life thesis PhD Student. As a thesis  PhD student, the whole universe of material in your topic is your exam reading, so you don’t dismiss stuff that could prove useful merely because “it’s not assigned reading”. If reading it doesn’t hurt, read it you shall.

Act like a man of action

A healthy bias for action will stand you in good stead in this field.

Look at all the accomplished entrepreneurs. Almost without exception, their success has come as a result of consistent, tenuous hard work.

Attack early, and relent last. Fire on your quarry hard, and fire at will. Pursue the quarry as far and as fast as you need to. There are NO LIMITS. You are the master of your destiny. Welcome to Entrepreneurship.






3 Keys to Growth Hacking

As an entrepreneur, I’ve been growing this blog as well as an ecommerce site for face masks, beauty products and other projects I do for clients.

You can check out some of my previous pieces on this blog on the topics of how to succeed as an entrepreneur, SEO and social media strategy.

One challenge I’ve come across and which a lot of readers might be trying to solve is: how do you grow significant amounts of traffic to your site in a short amount of time?

It’s a real challenge, especially for a busy entrepreneur. That’s why I offer growth-hacking and SEO consulting so readers can have a knowledgeable SEO Consultant to help.


While each business is different and you need to be creative, these are 3 key foundations I’d pay attention to if you’re growth hacking your product or website:

Growth Hacking Key #1: Release a flood of Useful Content targeted at your target market.

This is absolutely key.

You want to commit to a regular publishing schedule.

I know, I know, I can imagine some busy reader protesting: “How do I find time to publish content, let alone USEFUL content?”

Think of it as an investment into your business. In past you’d hire a salesman to peddle your wares door to door.

Now you let your content do the engagement with potential customers for you. Your words are the salesmen of the internet.

Publish sound, useful content, and your target market will start taking notice, and reaching out for your help and to use your products.

Growth Hacking Key #2: Share your content WIDELY

Publishing great content is only the beginning.

To be a competent growth hacker, you need to get in the sharing mindset.

Yes, that means you need to cold-email people and others in your niche, and share all your new content with anyone who will listen.

You never know, the right share can result in a high-profile link and grow your audience in a huge way.

Many people have not been trained in this way. You just need to treat your content like how you’d react in the early days of the internet when you came across a funny Facebook post. Back then you shared it with everyone of your Facebook friends

Growth Hacking Key #3: Be Smart and Measure Your Progress

I prefer to use an Analytics tool like Google Analytics to figure out how the market is responding to my actions.

That way I can see how my audience is growing, or, possibly, shrinking.

Then I analyze what I did before my audience increased significantly.

This is like a basic form of A/B Testing. You can also run a bunch of more complex analytics tests.

What channels did most new traffic come from?

At what times of the day did you post the most popular content?

What sort of content is converting best?

Is your bounce rate going up or down?

Growth Hacking on the Metal Gears on Black Background.

Growth Hacking on the Metal Gears on Black Background.


Keep in mind to always check your stats and query them for information that can lead you to make helpful optimizations for your growth hacking strategy.

These are just some of the keys to growth hacking. What have you found to be useful or worked for you? Leave a comment below. And as always, if you need to chat with me, drop me a line:


The 5 Career-Changing Books Used By The Smartest of the Bunch Entrepreneurs

I want to recommend you a book that will change your entire outlook.

But first, I’m assuming you are an entrepreneur, as this 5-book punch will only really have the desired effect on an entrepreneur’s thought process and his/her career progress. These are move-fast books for move-fast people, and not suitable for a traditional 9-to-5 mainstream kind of lifestyle and thought process. If you are in that category, these books might waste your time.

Secondly, get ready to increase your personal effectiveness by 5 times or more the next 3 months alone, and much more over the next 20 years.

Third, don’t read any of these books if you can’t read them all. That has the dangerous effect, like a powerful medicine, that if you take it part-way and stop, you’ll miss the full process of transformation, your old state will return with more power from resisting this strong injection, and you’ll wind up lost in a state far worse than ever before. I don’t want that kind of responsibility over anyone’s career. So read ALL the books, if any.

Why These 5 Books?

As an entrepreneur who has survived recessions and started multiple businesses from scratch, I’ve distilled them from more than a thousand other books that have had some good impact on my thinking, and

I selected for that true entrepreneurial essence that, refined like a gold elixir, and concentrated like a fine liquor, will spark an entrepreneurial storm in your own life. This is a favor to you, just because, well, you’re an entrepreneur, right?

If you apply all the insights you learn in these books, you’ll be writing me a million dollar check this time next year, and saying: “your stupid book recommendations made a difference!”

Does the order I read in matter?

Absolutely! Nothing will ruin you quite like the right medicine taken in the wrong sequence.

#1: The Lab where we put your new mind together

The Power of One, by Bryce Courtenay

I bet the old boy never thought he’d wind up penning one of the top 10 entrepreneurial novels out there, but this scrappy story of a young boy growing up on a farm in Apartheid days in South Africa vaults your thought process into an entrepreneurial state of mind. I won’t spoil the process and the story by telling you what to expect. And if you can put this book down once you start reading it, then you’re probably not a good reader, and one hopes you still have entrepreneurial DNA. If this book sparks something within you, that’s good. That’s your entrepreneurial mind coming together, and you’re sensitized to the possibilities of taking the world by storm. Lacking that, as an entrepreneur, you might as well fold and call it a day.


#2: Master your internal weaknesses at the RoundTable of Wall Street, where money never sleeps

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, by Edwin Lefevre

In which a farm boy cuts his teeth on capitalism and dominates the market through psychology and a cool hand.

Loved by traders, and reviled by critics, this saga chronicles the indelible rise and adventure of a major force in the field of finance and the stock market, Jesse Livermore, a titan whose very word was said to move the markets.

Read and lauded by perhaps 70% of the top 30 traders on Wall Street, there are true psychology secrets, and grit to be learned in this ancient tome. Choice quote from the book:

“To learn that a man can make foolish plays for no reason whatever was a valuable lesson. It cost me millions to learn that another dangerous enemy to a trader is his susceptibility to the urgings of a magnetic personality when plausibly expressed by a brilliant mind. It has always seemed to me, however, that I might have learned my lesson quite as well if the cost had been only one million. But Fate does not always let you fix the tuition fee. She delivers the educational wallop and presents her own bill, knowing you have to pay it, no matter what the amount may be. Having learned what folly I was capable of, I closed that particular incident.” — Jesse Livermore

Wall Street

#3: The Little Secret that can make you a millionaire

The 21 Success Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires, by Brian Tracy

A real kick in the pants of a book. Brief, cuts to the chase and bam! Forget the gurus and the “experts”. This book is so powerful you’ll want to skip all the other three books above and “cut to the chase”. DONT! You’ll only be cheating yourself if you do. Your mind is not ready if you do, and you’ll have only yourself to blame when the results don’t come.

5 Books every entrepreneur should read

#4: How to Start and Run A Profitable Business and Take Over the World

The Millionaire FastLane, by MJ DeMarco

Gosh, you’ve come far now from the lab so long ago where we made your mind. Now apply it to starting and growing a wildly profitable business using nothing but pure grit and mindset, and a relentless focus on hard work and selling skills.

If you skip this book and the last one, you are going to miss out on how a successful entrepreneur does the things from day 1 that will, in the course of time, massively place him on the path to relentless business and sales success, and how the financial and other rewards of entrepreneurship inevitably follow. So do yourself a favor, curl up on a couch and read both these books cover to cover. Without the actual knowledge of how to start and grow a profitable business the right way, you are going to dither and struggle and won’t get anywhere, like the other 90% of would-be successful entrepreneurs.

The Art of Entrepreneurship

#5: The Elixir of Powerful Legacy and World-Domination: The Secret Behind World-Changing Brands like Ford, Apple, Nike, Berkshire-Hathaway and the Entrepreneur Master-Minds that started them

Blue Ocean Strategy, by W. Chan Kim, PhD(INSEAD Business School) and Renee Mauborgne, PhD(INSEAD Business School)

Here’s what the Harvard Business Review(best known for cold, non-excitable, pour-cold-water-on-your-party analyses) said about this mastermind volume, and it’s nothing less than that:

“So powerful is blue ocean strategy, in fact, that a blue ocean strategic move can create brand equity that lasts for decades.” — HBR

They are literally tripping over themselves, and I don’t blame them.

It hardly needs a qualifier. Only the smartest minds will bother reading this book, the top 1%.

Just as an example, this book is assigned reading at top 10 Business Schools and MBA programs in the entire world, including, with links to the assigned material:

MIT Sloan School of Business,

New York University Stern School of Business,

INSEAD Business School,

Harvard Business School

Carnegie Mellon University Heinz School of Business

The ideas of the Blue Ocean Strategy are such a huge deal, that INSEAD, rated inside the Top 4 MBA Programs in the world in 2015, has a whole Institute dedicated to its study and research, the INSEAD BLUE OCEAN STRATEGY INSTITUTE

Get it from me folks: This is the secret sauce that Coca-Cola and Pepsi are using to dominate the world, and leave you and all the other entrepreneurs and their brands way, way, and boy I mean way behind. And they are willing to hire armies of MBA grads who cut their teeth learning this secret sauce. Don’t say I didn’t tell ya, all that long ago!

If you want to create a world-changing institution that people will still be talking about, potentially centuries after you’re dead, rather than a mere company that makes you and your workers cash, this is the tome you had better not miss.

And these particular professors have combined years of research and academic work to deliver the goods.

Blue Ocean Strategy for Entrepreneurs

The smartest entrepreneurs are applying this research as fast as they can, all over the world:

The Secrets of Entrepreneurial Success

Launch Experts

You! Stop Worrying and Gain Traffic Like Apple.

Welcome to a revolutionary blog post.

I mean, it’s such a small thing for something that could change your life.

“How?”, you ask.

Most people want to sell better, become a better salesman, a better organization, however they want to put it, but few actually know how to sell in a natural, effortless way that keep customers and rivals hooked.

This makes sense. If it was easy, we’d all be doing it, and we’d all be insanely, fabulously rich.

What would an extra 500 sales mean for your company? What about if you could repeat that and standardize it? What would a 50% greater brand recognition and mostly sales mean to your brand value and bottom line?

It could mean the ability to finally expand your team and pursue more ambitious global growth. Think about it. If you could invest more in your business, you could be bringing in more and more business, and reach more customers. Pretty soon, you could be a household name.

To get there requires work, but the right kind of work.

See, we’ve all been the victims of some elaborate con.

You know how most businessmen try to market their product or service. They approach some “cold” prospects like Arnold Schwarzenneger, with an equally cold offer and a cookie-cutter feature list of their product or service and why it’s the best thing the client has ever seen.

You know the result:

They totally spook their target, who run off into their competitors’ camp and loudly crow about what a mean bunch of good-for-nothings those first guys were. And “gosh, they were just after my money!”

Or some sorry variation of the above.

That’s how the standard script has been drilled into our minds: Sell, sell, sell!

And the equally standard results that can slow your new business development to a crawl even while you spend more time on it.

Confused salesman

How about that?

What’s a business to do? What am I missing

When I worked on my commerce app, HackishWord in 2014, I noticed that trying to get customers this old way is kind of broken, and a slow lane to nowhere most of the time.

We are inundated with product offers every day. Like B.B. King used to say, “The Thrill is gone baby, it’s gone for good.” So of course we ignore every product offer we get!!

See how the logic works! None of us appreciates having our time wasted.

People are only interested if they can see the fulfillment of some strong need that they have.

Wait! I want you to read that statement again, once or twice.

If you miss this key concept, you could spend years in the sales and marketing doldrums, and will wish you’d paid attention when this simple, but not easy, concept, is looking you right in the eye.

That’s Principle # 1 of all successful marketing campaigns.

If you want all the other 9 Principles, leave your email below and we’ll send you the list:

[contact-form subject=’PROJECT Contact’][contact-field label=’Name’ type=’name’ required=’1’/][contact-field label=’Email’ type=’email’ required=’1’/][/contact-form]

For now, let’s see how a marketing giant like Apple applies this exact principle to get oodles of online and offline traffic, in the process generating billions in revenue and brand value. Ready?

Think, for a second, about Apple. What comes to mind?


I bet that’s the last thing that came to your mind.

People trying to get bucks off you?

Not unless you operate a corporate buying account and have to purchase Apple equipment for millions of dollars.

No, for most of us, whether you like Apple, love Apple, or hate Apple, it’s like we almost never see the salespeople in the process.

They are “Apple Store Assistants”, “Phone Service Reps”, “Support”, what-have you. But a guy trying to get you to buy?! Eeeuw! No.

But someone has to sell, right?! Who’s actually doing the selling in Cupertino, Calif.?

Welcome to your new bag of tricks. I want you to try this out next time you want your kid to do something for you.

Instead of saying: “Hey Pink, take the trash out.”

To the usual groans and complaints, this time take out a bag of goodies, and say something like:

“Hey honey, let’s get some of this. But oh, we need to get the garbage out of here.”

That’s bribing, I hear you say. But you’d reward someone for making effort, it’s only natural, no? Then why would your customers ever behave any different. You’re treating them like cash-machines, and not as actual, living, breathing, feeling human beings.

What’s in it for me?

That should be the question you ask for any major use of your time and effort and attention, and that’s exactly what’s going to be top of your clients’ mind when you’re walking up and trying to make your sales pitch.

Valuable brands like Apple get this tricky psychology, and it pays them well, to the tune of $40 Billion Q4 revenue in 2014.

Apple makes their product perceived benefits for the customer so top of mind, and front and center, that the actual payment from the customer is only a secondary hindrance that the customer willingly contributes so they can get their hands on all the benefits that Apple is “bundling” out to them.

What if you could sell like that?

If you can craft an offer that compelling, people start paying attention to you. Before you ever talk to them.

Before you ever offer them anything.

You become known as the guy who pulls rabbits out of a regular old hat.

“How do they do it?”

“Wow, this product is amazing!”

“I gotta tell all my friends.”

And you get people beating a path down to your door.

More people than you can deal with. Soon, you gonna need more salespeople.

But they won’t be salespeople anymore. They will be “Customer Sales Reps to support all your clients who are trooping in like the Navy Seals”.

So if there is one key take away from this post, I want you to get the benefits-for-less-than-it-costs mindset to properly communicate your brand. And I also want you to get the key to growing a huge inbound traffic flow from referrals and viral network effects based on the perceived and validated benefits of your product from people who have tasted your offer and can attest to how good your offer is.

How can I help you with your brand communication? feel free to reach out: or leave a comment.

Tony Montana

10 Top Things I Learned About Digital Marketing , Content Marketing, SEO and PPC in 2015

Digital marketing is in a state of flux today. Brands are unsure what to do to set themselves apart with all the proliferation of tools and techniques on the market.

Are you a digital marketer? Are you trying to grow your brand’s reach on social media? Below, I summarize some of the very best tips on digital marketing from my research and experiences in 2015.

I had some good experience on a blog of mine at HackishWord in 2014. The blog was an attempt to curate some of the funny and useful content from the web, trying to generate traffic so I could make a killing off traffic numbers, ads and product referrals.

I did not quite take over the world, but my link-building efforts have continued to bring in traffic into 2015, even when I abandoned the effort and focused on building other products.

To take advantage of search engines like Google today, you will need to adapt your approach to SEO. In a word, you need “rich content” more than ever before.

A link-builder in 2015 is still going to contribute a lot of value to an online marketing team. He or she just needs to be armed with a prolific Content-Production team that can put out impressive stuff as fast as the link builder can find linkers interested in linking to it.

Digital Marketing

1: SEO still works, sort of

Some SEOs say link building is dead. Here’s what you need to know. Link building is definitely not dead. Build as many legitimate links as you can. Google is still paying attention to links. I figured this out from my experiences and what other people’s experiences has proven to me. I mean, how could they not? Links are here to stay. The reason why Wikipedia has so many other sites linking to it is because it genuinely holds a treasure-trove of legitimate content, and even if Google were to stop ranking them, all that mind-share that Wikipedia has is not going to go away.

Get a clue? Yes, you too can be the next Wikipedia. Note what this does not mean. I’m not saying go chasing link farms. But if posting great, on-topic content in your industry is going to induce thousands of other sites to link to you, do all you can to chase those opportunities.

2. PPC is big now, and will only get bigger

The gains from SEO and “free” traffic can make a big difference to the profitability of businesses that have small marketing budgets. With heightened competition in the marketplace, time-saving solutions like Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads and other paid acquisition PPC channels are proving their genius more and more.

If you’re in charge of a digital marketing campaign in 2015’s market, you should ideally have some budget allocated to PPC and not rely on organic traffic alone. This gambit can jump-start your marketing, with massive results for your brand or business.

3. Data analytics is more critical than ever

The funny thing about analytics is that few organizations have an appropriate handle on the analytics that would benefit their business the most. Imagine a brand focused on impressions and what the numbers say about their impressions, when really they should be focusing on less quantitative and more qualitative data about the perception of value that their brand has with their target market. My advice is: think outside the box and don’t parrot the same analytics as everyone else. Just because it works for Samsung doesn’t mean it’s going to work for Sam’s Super Electronics.

4. Most data analytics is not up to snuff. There will be a revolution in the market

The tools marketers use are rather clunky, our approaches sometimes pedestrian and immature, especially so in the digital context. Take Google Analytics, for instance. The whole ecosystem is still so clunky and unwieldy that better and simpler analytics tools and approaches are going to rise and replace the old stuff. You can just take a look at the masses of data analytics startups now starting up to get a measure of the scale of this revolution that is waiting in the wings. Where some good value could be added would be in trying to do something orders of magnitudes better than the current state of the art, and that’s where a lot of these efforts will most likely fail.

5. Marketers need to see beyond the hype and focus on essentials

Focus on essentials to stay on track. When you’ve got 50+ social media channels with a vast mind-share, and each with a different mode of engagement, a different approach to talking to your market, and a plethora of off-topic data and slightly-relevant information flooding your analytics, it’s no wonder many brands and marketing teams are kind of adrift in the new marketing landscape. So what are you going to do? You need to know what makes your brand tick. What are the key marketing essentials your brand needs to reach the right people? And now might be the best time to bring on board strategic marketers who can pilot a marketing product through the murky waters of digital in 2015 and beyond.

6. Story-Telling Is Still Hard, and What Brands Should Be Focusing On

Listen, marketing in 2015 is hard, if it was easy, every business left and right would be thriving and finding its right market at the press of a button. And there’s a ton of tools all selling buttons that promise to deliver that exact utopia, but that day is not here yet. Until that happens, you need to get your hands on the digital marketing talent most suited to your products and market focus, and you need a sensible approach to the market. But most of all, you need to become good at telling stories that resonate with your audience, and coming up with innovative ways to deliver those stories.

7. Content Promotion, done right, can make or break a product

Don’t just make content. If you make a million-dollar video promo of your brand and product, and no-one ever sees that video, guess what? That’s a million dollars down the drain! So, before you make and produce content, always think: Promotion! Promotion! Promotion!

To promote content, you need a vast digital footprint, so invest in that, if that means partnerships with publishing channels, promotion of your own publishing channels, unscalable things like building relationships on social media, maybe you need to scale your team up so you can do unscalable things. Just make sure your efforts leave you in a place where you can promote to millions.

8. Social media is good for engaging customers and fans, but innovations are needed to monetize your online fanbase

A lot of companies and brands have discovered that just investing in social media alone without thinking about how you monetize your online fanbase can be a costly proposition. What does this mean for you as a marketer? It means you can’t just be social, bring your business and financial goals to the wine-and-dine. Send people to carefully thought-out landing pages, makes sales pitches to appropriate leads, in other words, do the actual hard work of selling to your fanbase, don’t just leave it to chance.

9. All brands and market segments are not created equal

This is huge, and took me a while to discover. There are brands and sections of the market you absolutely don’t want to be a part of. And there are market segments where anything from a dead cow to a Ferrari will sell, sometimes surprisingly. So people that get market and segmentation and strategy will have a leg up on the hordes who take whatever the market gives them unquestioningly. If you’re not getting the results you want from the market, go back and examine the fundamentals. Are your target customers there? Is the value to the end customer there? Who is doing the buying? Why are they not buying? Do they buy a similar product, at a similar price point? What are their objections to your value proposition? Maybe try a different market segment, or a different market altogether!

10. Try a lot of different approaches, there’s such a huge opportunity in digital marketing that Gun-Slinging experimenters are bound to hit upon a successful approach sooner than the slow and careful Method People.

That’s the science and un-science of it! In marketing, you’ve got to be ready to experiment, sometimes with wildly off-road and off-the-books techniques. I mean, dead cows and Ferraris? Yeah, unless you try something different, you’re never going to know. And if you don’t know, then you don’t know.

The market is going to reward those who dare to try bold new approaches, and who experiment and tinker with marketing approaches in a multitude of different ways.

Hacker as fun

Udemy Now Has A Blender Video Course

Just a quick heads up to those of you who might be curious to start learning Blender. There’s now a whole comprehensive beginner’s tutorial from Udemy that you can check out.


It covers everything from installation, getting around the interface, and your first steps in modeling, animation and rendering.



As if that’s not enough, more advanced users can also check out the Blender Video Course, which should be enough to get you producing good work and animations with Blender. As I understand it, there are some coupons if you access the course now, so get in while the terms are good.

blend 4 web






Quest of the Minotaur

My Move to Elixir

I have recently started my efforts to learn the Elixir programming language.

The time feels right. There’s a lot of things that make it the right approach.

Elixir is relatively new. I heard about it from some other Erlang people, and Joe Armstrong had some pretty nice things to say about the new programming language.

For someone who thinks that Erlang and Racket, along with OCaml, are possibly the three best programming languages ever invented, it makes a ton of sense to delve into Elixir, and do some more coding kungfu with a new but familiar-feeling samurai sword.

What am I going to do in particular with Elixir?


Elixir runs on the Erlang VM, which means Erlang processes and all the goodness that Erlang has to offer. So, lightning fast apps, infinitely scalable, and robust systems that are insanely reliable and trouble-free. First class computing at the finest.

And there’s a bunch of web focused frameworks that have mushroomed up in the Elixir community over the last couple of years, Phoenix and a bunch of others.

A phoenix rises

A Phoenix Rises in Erlang Land

In particular I’ll be releasing some long planned web and mobile products of my own, along with a ton of cutting-edge apps for clients.

For some of the API needs, Elixir looks like it will fit the bill quite well, and is eminently well-prepared to power the next breakout app on the App Stores.

Quaff the Elixir

Quaff the Elixir, Do Anything With It, But Ignore it At Your Own Peril

Get in now while the goodies are still hot from the oven.

Let’s build exciting apps!



Sales is fun

Things That Don’t Matter

Things that don't matter

Ask any entrepreneur what their most important resource is, and they will likely say “Time”. There’s a good reason for this.

As an entrepreneur, you’re in the business of applying your time, knowledge and effort into crafting something that will be of economic value to others in the marketplace. That’s entrepreneurship in a nutshell. All else is more or less scenery and nuance.

One of the lessons you quickly learn is that time is very much nearly the driving constraint behind every sort of entrepreneurial endeavor you may try.

And the more you go along and learn this, the less and less certain things matter, the farther and farther you go.

Here’s a few of these things that don’t seem to matter in the long run of entrepreneurship:

Dotting T’s and whatnot

As an entrepreneur, you will very likely be looking to cut short-cuts on things that are not essential. Can’t quite decide which office building has the better view? Choose either one!

Can’t attend the events because they coincide with two other really important functions you have to attend? Well, out goes that one!

Didn’t dot the Ts and whatnot and you still needed to get the report out? Well, out go the Ts, and the other one. I’ve actually forgotten what the other one is, it’s just not essential at this point.


I used to work with a super programmer named “Mark”. The interesting thing about Mark is that he was probably one of the smartest programming people I’ve ever worked with. But he also was never the best-dressed person in the office, I can’t remember a single day you’d have mistaken him for that.

He was more focused on fundamentals, and everyone knew it, that’s why he didn’t need to keep up the common appearances like everyone else.

Now, I’m a bit lucky I have stylish and helpful family members around who make sure I look good and dress well. As a designer I value good style, but it does come at a cost. What could you accomplish if you adopted a bit more barebones approach? You decide for yourself.


I stepped down from my last job in the last couple of months to pursue my entrepreneurial interests and to help a ton of startups build and deliver great products.

Since then, I’ve probably received a few thousand random emails from the internet in my inbox. In amongst the lot, is a few good ones that I will get to soon. But in the meantime, my time for correspondence has become more and more constrained. As an entrepreneur, you’re stuck doing hard work and can barely stick your head up long enough to admire some of the good things of life.

Popular Opinion

This is one of the things you have to reluctantly toss out the door when you become an entrepreneur in your own right. You got no time and no business worrying about what the market or other people’s opinions are on your industry or your business, or whatever.

They think ecommerce is dead? Whatever!

They say there’s another bubble in internet stocks? See, you can’t let words like this discourage you.

Focus on the essentials. Focus on what you can do, and focus on what you are doing, and go out the door and get it done. Your customers and fans will thank you for it.

What does matter?

Likewise, there’s a lot that matters.

But I’ll sum it up succinctly and say: keep on mission, execute like a flood, and goodspeed!

The world needs a whole bunch of entrepreneurial types all solving each other’s and the world’s problems. To what extremes will you go?

Hacker powers

The Hierarchy of Human Faculties

It’s always fascinated me to scope out the realms of human faculties, and what determines the things we do, our impulses, inclinations, actions, and destiny and so forth.

Here’s a corollary, on the matter of actions:

Someone said:

“Sow a thought, and reap a deed.

Sow a deed and reap a habit.

Sow a habit and reap a character.

Now character is destiny, so:

Sow a character, and reap your destiny.”

This is interesting in many ways, which I won’t go into now because this is merely an example for now.

The real issue which I want to write about and put down before I forget this thought I’ve had for a long time, is the hierarchy of Man’s faculties.

Forget whatever the psychologists say, I’m very convinced, increasingly, of the accuracy of this hierarchy.

At the most basic, most primitive level, we have: Bodily Impulses

I think we all know what these are, and we all have a very ready bias to act on them first. Hunger, cold, pleasant sounds, sweet food, tasty dishes, aroma of good stew or what-have-you, human touch, mating instincts, adrenaline rush of physical activity, the thrill of speed, the thrill of action, and so forth.

The animals are also very good in this department. If anything, animals probably possess these appetites and decision-making faculty in a very similar way. Dogs probably appreciate the smell and savor of a good chicken stew better than human faculties, on the merely physiological response level.

At a slightly more advanced level, but still very basic, we have: Emotional Impulses

Emotions are common and well-known to us. Someone shouts at you, you get a bad emotion, so of course you shout back. So we do use this impulse as the driver of decision quite a lot in our lives. Emotions have to do with some subliminal brain functions that concern how we feel about ourselves, the un-rational part of our sense of self, and us, and what concerns us as our chief interest, at a “feeling” level without putting any thought or physiological concern into it. You can go fight an army of thousands that is obviously bigger than you, and looks threatening and menacing on a physiological level, if your emotions are pushed in the right way and your sense of feeling is hurt or wounded or triggered in the right ways. Yes you can. So it’s a faculty, and we use it quite frequently as the basis for decisions. I imagine the animals must have emotions in some way, but they probably begin to lag behind humans on this faculty because, m, their emotional brains are just not as big.

Then, at perhaps the most commonly defined human essential: The Rational Mental Cognitive Impulses

We also have a bias towards thinking. Sit down for a while, with nothing to do, you will feel things emotionally, you will hear and feel things, maybe the temperature on your screen and so on, but what else? Your brain, as a human being, will also begin to think! It will begin to categorize experiences, and define good and bad things, and define what was good, and what was suboptimal, and what it should probably do next, and so on. And on and on.

Now the animals do think in some measure. But we greatly begin to outstrip them and go so far beyond them in this capacity as to render them almost totally irrational, compared to the rational, cognitive faculties of a human being. And so the rational impulse is a good impulse on which we base a lot of our decisions and actions.

Finally, at a final, little-acknowledged level, we have: The Spiritual Impulse

Hate it as much as you do, but the spiritual aspect of mankind is too real to ignore. There are man who pursue bad, when it’s obvious from a merely rational thought that the bad actions they have done are doing harm to millions of others, and rationally they are aware of it, emotionally, they feel remorse about some of the bad they have done, and physiologically they are repulsed by the sight of it, but they must do it nonetheless, in obedience to some higher law or impulse.

Yes, I say, their spirit is gone completely bad, and in the face of all other protestation to the contrary, they must carry out some dark and evil act in obedience to their inner spiritual darkness and evil, and that is their biggest driver or impulse, the inner spiritual darkness of murderers and thieves and psychopaths, who carry out these things in defiance even of their acknowledged mental convictions to the contrary.

So, the spiritual impulse, whether you acknowledge it or not, has to do with GOOD vs EVIL, and I know a lot of people, especially intellectual and emotional and merely-physiological types, are all against this distinction, and that’s because, each stage of the impulse chain is inevitably against the next, and as humans we each decide which level we want to live in, which level defines our existence. And in a sense, we are stuck in one or the other level, and our actions and decisions show it. And if you’re stuck in the lower levels, your life will be less and less fundamentally sound, and your decisions and actions will show it.

And ultimately, if you are ruled by anything less than spiritual truth, you will tend to be more and more EVIL, because, at the spiritual level is the thrust and direction of a man’s soul set, and that pervades and overrides everything else, and it  has to do, as I said, with setting a man’s soul on the side of Good or Evil, and so to get it wrong there means to be necessarily in the thrust and pitch of evil.

Now, Good has to do with God, Creator of mankind. This used to be common knowledge once, when spiritual reality was commonly acknowledged, but now the lower faculties and impulses of men rule more and more in a wider and wider majority of the population, we are become like animals, and lower, hence your urges to resist this statement.

And God sent Jesus Christ His Son to save us from the evil of the flesh and the lower impulses which are against spiritual truth, and by Him, some have truly been saved from this wicked and evil generation. Apart from Jesus Christ, however, we are all a bunch of lost souls, driven to wreck through the evil of our dark impulses.

Don't drink the kool-aid

Data Technology to Surpass I.T.

Here’s a great speech by Jack Ma on the changes in the revolution of computing technology and the changes we are likely to see over the next 30 years of computing:

He’s really on point on a lot of these things.

If you’re an internet or engineering entrepreneur, you should be really excited.

Start building things and helping more and more people with their problems, now, start reaching more and more communities, and building products that make a positive impact in people’s lives and careers.


“How I got a lifetime’s worth of programmer education in 300 hours over 4 months.”

A few months back I was bored with figuring out whatever it was I was figuring out at the computer, and decided I had had enough. I needed to throw out all of my programming expertise and fill my mind with new super-powers. If only!

Hacker powers

I was not lacking for inspiration entirely however. I’ve been coding since my college days, and went on to work fulltime on some big projects, including some very famous websites that a lot of people have used at one time or the other. More recently, I have been helping startup founders learn coding, and the technical mindset and tips they have to pick up.

What if I could reprogram my mind? I thought.

What if, instead of being stuck coding Rails and Python, and do that for life, what if you could be having more fun, and there really was some weird new thing that could transform the way you think about code and computing?

I felt kinda like this guy Joe Armstrong in the video below:


But I felt I was on the edge of something nice, and yet, little did I know how much I was getting myself into. For, you see, I decided to learn, not one, not two, or three, but something like 5 new programming languages, and a labyrinthine collection of stacks and frameworks that most people have never heard of.

“But Why, Mr. Anderson? Why Do You Persist?”


Because I can. Because I choose to. And because it’s fun. I play around with linux distros for fun. My Mac-loving friends ask why I bother when I could just boot into Mac every-time, and play around in the sandbox.

After all, not everybody has to go about digging into the kernel and stuff like that. Except if you’re curious, then you do. And if you want to know how.

So I jumped right in! Little did I know I was just about to get the equivalent of a lifetime’s worth of programming education, more than my little brain was equipped to carry, like a core-dump from some super alien planet of computing where a segmentation fault had resulted in ages-worth of knowledge being spam-mailed to the wrong coordinates and somehow been delivered, all neatly-wrapped up, at my door by an unsuspecting mailman.


But what is fun? And what should a hacker learn? What is of value? No, scratch that! What is of value TO A HACKER?

Hacker as fun

Cause I didn’t want the suits (read, corporate higher-ups and slave-masters) setting the fashion through O’Reilly Publishing and Amazon and moWrox the publishing company, and channeling us all into forests of corporate dump-speak and brainless monkey-coding.

Me chico, I wanted what was coming to me.


Out went the suits. Out went “agile”, and “scrum” and “scalable-this” and “scalable-that”, and “stateless” and “sessions” and “architect this” and “standards that”, and “pair-programming this” and “hackathon that”.

I threw out all the corporate soup, and all the dishes in which it’s been served to turn us all into self-effacing, servile and un-thinking automatons, to be milked by the system for what it knows best, dollars and more dollars.

If you gonna do code right, chico, you need to throw out all that stuff. Think for yourself, pursue your own agenda, and fight the machine at every turn. It’s the only way how I tell ya, it’s the only way.

Some new friends now. Enter your new friends. 

Fun is Erlang. Erlang is fun.

Fun is OCaml.

Fun is Lisp. Some swear by Common Lisp. Some swear by Scheme. Still others swear by Racket. I’ve tried all three to one extent or the other, and they’re all more fun on a dry summer evening than 2 hours at a James Bond movie. No-one disturbs you with their ill-timed shouts when you’re coding, unlike when you’re at the cinema, making you lose out on the full 100% of your hard-paid $15 for the movie and popcorn and stuff. You should have known better, going to the movies alone, didn’t society tell you something about that!

Fun is Blender and Gimp and animation dude! You should totally be in animation! It’s the way of the future, eh, the future past and the past future, and the future, period.

This is a paradox. You can totally have fun doing things that most people have only ever heard of, or dreamt of, whatever, but the reality is, no-one does this stuff. At least that I know. I mean, one or two other people I’ve come across claim to have done Haskell in any measure, or at least told me so, but I’ve worked alongside going on hundreds of other tech people and programmers. Most people wouldn’t recognize a Haskell if it bumped into them in the parking lot, and wouldn’t want to know.

They’d rather go home and watch Game of Thrones. Or 50 Shades of Grey, or whatever other mindless junk is on TV these days. If you want the real hacker stuff, there’s very little competition out there. No, I’m talking real SERIOUS competition. There’s almost none. Everyone is busy watching reruns of Seinfeld and drinking three-days old Miller Lite.

You want a Haskell? You can have the whole thing, there’s enough to go around! Reserved for real hackers only!

Want a side of Lisp with that? Sure, here you go! No-one else is in line after you. Oh, you don’t have to bring it back today, feel free to bring it in whenever you’re in town next time. The whole brogrammers tribe are over in the woods somewhere watching the Super Ball or something un-nerdy like that!


And yet it’s so easy nowadays for a committed hacker to learn some truly wonderful things. And to code circles around teams and teams of sheeprogrammers who only code 9 to 5 and turn up dutifully at every one of those stupid politics corporate cookouts.

The learning resources are abundant, more books, videos, MOOC classes, forums, websites and meetups to learn through and to code better and better things.

So I took my fill.

Here is the list of funtasic things I wanted to learn over the next couple of months:

Blender, because I wanted to learn animation

Unreal Engine and C++, for making games





Racket, the programming language

CoffeeScript, the better JavaScript



Cordova and Ionic


Swift for iOS 

I was lucky I had a long 10-day holiday coming up at work, so that gave me a huge jumpstart.

I splurged on whatever took my fancy in programmer-land. I was like a little kid in an ice-cream factory.

But notice what’s missing in the above lists. Yes, that’s right. The usual suspects are missing. The stuff that’s boring to death, that makes most programmers’ eyes glaze over at their day job, and makes them feel like smashing both computer and monitor together, and walking outta there, never to come back again.

My list is extensive, okay. It’s hard, that’s fine. It takes time, that’s okay. It’s very challenging, that’s okay. Most people probably couldn’t do it, that’s fine. But what’s there to stop you, or any one person, from learning all this? Only yourself, that’s what!

Tony Montana

I’ve read some articles by hackers like Peter Norvig and Eric Raymond, amongst others, suggesting you need 10,000 hours to truly become a masterful hacker.

And I think that’s a wrong statement to quote on many levels. Not least of which is that it’s such a specific number, with no precise goal, like “to be in Tokyo, travel for 3000 miles by boat”. I’m surprised everyone is quoting it so blindly and so lazily. I’m only quoting it here to illustrate a point.

I think the 10,000 number is based off research from other “experts” that proves that this is so. This is exactly the sort of stuff I’m advocating you to avoid. Don’t drink the Kool Aid!

Don't drink the kool-aid

Listen, these guys like Norvig and Raymond and others are very accomplished hackers, so listen closely to whatever they say. But please don’t parrot their opinions and thoughts as fact without doing some research yourself.

Go out, do all the hard work yourself. Then, you can read some fine research stating certain things and make up your own mind, but please don’t become an unthinking automaton that can be programmed and remote-controlled by popular opinion, even if that popular opinion is correct every once in a long while.

Now, as I said, my list above is quite extensive, and I realized it was not going to be easy to ingest so much education in a short amount of time. It was going to be very challenging, time-consuming, and mentally exhausting.


Silva: Do you see what comes of all this running around, Mr. Bond? All this jumping and fighting, it’s exhausting!

This is what I call “Paying the Bill.”

You go eat at a fine restaurant, maybe it’s an eat-all-you-can fine buffet, but you gotta pay the bill, and that’s how the world works.

Well, no different here.

Paying the programming bill. Wow, this wasn’t easy, or lite.

This couldn’t be diluted with some BudWeiser and watered down like Chivas Regal. This was the real deal, and it was gonna cost.

So, when I looked at the ‘learning bill’ of what in my foolish ambition I’d signed up to learn, as you can imagine, I was overwhelmed. The ‘learning bill’ came up to a staggering 250-300 hours depending on how strenuous you wanted to be on certain things and how efficiently certain things could be covered.

“250-300 hours! 300 hours! How I will make 300 hours?” I lamented!

Said the number out loud, 300 hours! How would I make 300 hours? I didn’t have 30 hours, much less 300! That abstract number stood before me like a sheer wall I could not scale.

I was a busy programmer. Writing code for fun in the evenings and toying with multiple business ideas, and sharing my programming knowledge with budding programmers at a technology institution by day.

I had no time to do everything that was helpful. Much less crawl away into some cave for 300 hours without sleep or break and try to crack the koans of coding on some kind of life-enlightenment Quest of the Minotaur!

Quest of the Minotaur


It’s like Robert Frost said.

You either take the path not taken. Or you don’t.

And for most novel choices and most people, that answer will be don’t. That’s why it’s the path not taken.

But for you young programmers out there, this is something you will confront repeatedly in the course of a technical career. You must not stop until you’ve scaled every mountain. So who cares if the mountain is X feet high. If you’ve committed to doing this for a lifetime, you’ve got to count the cost, put together a plan, and show up each time. If you look at it the right way, that’s actually the fun part of being a programmer.

Treading those parts that mere mortals fear to walk.

Do they shrink at OCaml?

Well you know what. You become the Cool Hand Luke of OCaml, unfazed and unperturbed.

Cool Hand Luke


But for your own sake, don’t faint because “oh this requires so much time”. You can be any programmer you want, but you can’t be a weak programmer. You’ll get washed out when the next recession comes if you do that.

I’ve been fired from companies in the past. But I had made coding my good friend. Guess what I did. That’s right, I trotted off to start my own coding company, glad I didn’t have to waste time anymore baby-sitting some dumb-dumb buggy code that the higher-ups wouldn’t touch.

You know what’s a weak programmer?

It’s the programmer who can be SAFELY outsourced to India and all those places when times allow, and even in India, they have weak programmers there. They also have strong programmers, probably two of the best three programmers I’ve worked with were Indians, out of Korean, Chinese, American, African and Latin American programmers I’ve worked with. A great programmer will be fine wherever he winds up. He’ll build the next Alibaba from there!

If you’re in that situation you must read the tea leaves and become a super programmer, like me, that’s your only hope of having fun on your own terms.

Begin today, and begin by knowing that whatever there is in code that might be useful, can be learned. And the really useful stuff, the really special stuff, is a ton of fun, and most programmers will never know this stuff anyway. So you have very little competition. You just need to believe in yourself, in your abilities to keep learning and to learn better and faster than you can imagine, and to make a heady go at it.

So that’s how I tackled it, and I’ve told you why I did it, and how I gained a lifetime’s worth of programmer education in 300 hours over 4 months. And how you too can do something like this and become a better programmer than you ever thought possible.

By the way, don’t skimp on the hours. For each topic I had to cover, it took about 20 or so hours to become conversant at the basic level, and then many more hours to truly become fluid and use it natively. The whole learning adventure was something in that realm of 250-300 hours, spread out over 3-4 months.


600 Hours to Learn Chinese. 300 Hours can get you very far in programming

I heard recently a language expert or other saying it takes about 600 hours of studying a language like Russian or Chinese before you can be comfortably conversant and semi-fluent for most situations you’ll face. I’m willing to listen to these figures from that field because they correspond very well with the experience I’ve just described to you. So that’s more or less how much mastery will cost you. Anything beyond that will make you more and more fluid, and it just gets better from there. You’ll be presenting news on CCTV at some point north of that. But the hardest part is that initial 600 hours of conscious, active practice and learning. And you don’t need 10 years this or 10,000 hours that, the figures you hear being parrotted by idle minds, and, quite honestly, defeatist people just hear those figures and think “What’s the point, I won’t even try!” And is it any wonder no-one ever learns anything as a result?

If you measure the art of programming against this 600 hours to become conversant at Chinese, you realize 300 hours is about half that, and you can get pretty good, so it’s probably a more efficient field of knowledge-uptake(Part of this is no doubt that Chinese is a fairly complex communication platform with different semantics to Roman script, and so it is a bit more demanding, but coding is no less demanding, maybe just a tad easier to reason about initially). Granted, I was a fairly decent programmer before, but boy, I learned so much more than I had ever thought possible. At one point I became so confident with my new powers, so then I was going to launch my own Rails-like framework for Ocaml, then I played around with ChicagoBoss, looked at how that had been done for Erlang, and decided it’d be a lot of work that perhaps was a bit too distant if one of my goals at that time was to continue with the plan and finish what I had started.

But, you become fluent at this sort of thing. Who knows where you can go with it? Maybe join an open source project after this, release a game, or, like me, launch a startup or just work with others to improve their products? There’s a lot of ways you can apply this sort of knowledge. But at least have fun doing it! Nothing worse than a grumpy programmer who’s lost the enthusiasm of the game. Normally they are the ones dissuading everyone else from learning new skills and cussing out popular open source projects because they can’t understand why anyone still enjoys that kind of stuff.”

Share with others in the comments below if you’ve gone on such a fantastic learning journey as this, and how it changed your perspective.

Below, I’m linking to some resources I used to learn some of the stuff I listed above.


Resources and a few pointers


Book: 7 frameworks in 7 days , go over the Erlang Webmachine Part,

Webmachine tutorial:

Book: LearnYouSomeErlang, in some detail, or, more concisely, read the next book

Book: “Concurrent Programming in Erlang” by Joe Armstrong, it’s about 150 pages.

Then, play around with the WebMachine source code and attempt to master it better

There’s a book for the ChicagoBoss web framework. Look it up. It’s a lot of fun.



Book: “Introduction to Objective Caml.

It’s about 250 pages.

Learn Eliom web framework from the Eliom book. Look it up.



Racket Web Tutorial

Racket systems programming tutorial:

Go through the entire Racket Guide:

Book: “Realm of Racket



Do Laravel and PHP quick tutorials

Learn by doing




Read the books and resources from Apple’s Developer web pages


C++ and game development

Go through the C++ Programming guides from Unreal Engine, and the Unreal Engine guides from scratch.


Blender, and Gimp

Simply go through all these tutorials from the Blender website, sequentially:

Then do these 12 tutorials:

And finally, do these:

Do these 15 Gimp tutorials:




Little Addendum:

So now that I’m done with this great voyage of fun through the programming wasteland, and know the bright spots, and all the good stuff I listed above, here perhaps is the key question, or at least one of the key questions I had a lot of curiosity about that I can now answer, at least for myself, and other reasonable people:

What then is the most fun programming language to code with, at least out of all these, and others I have used in my varied and exotic programming life?



Without any qualification or excuses whatsoever,

The most fun programming languages I have coded with that gave me the most pleasure, power and aesthetic enjoyment and fun,

Are Erlang, and Racket.

When I coded Erlang and Racket, the hours just flew by, and I was aware I was having some of the most fun I’ve ever had at a computing console.

I can’t even begin to describe it.

And that’s funny, because, if you look at it, both Erlang and Racket absolutely discourage almost everyone from even coding one line to try them out because they are both unforgiving in their look and have defiantly “weird syntax” and are bravely unaware anyone thinks they look strange in that “red dress and blue shoes”.

But believe me, these were the most fun languages I’ve ever touched to date.

No questions at all about it.

Now, I had also coded things similar to this, like Common Lisp, for instance. And it doesn’t even come close, at least for me.

What about Ruby, and Python, languages I’ve coded handily since back when? They are both very fun and enjoyable, and I still use them all the time, but, are you kidding me? Erlang and Racket are at once so flexible it’s like driving a flying car through the Daytona 500, and so powerful it’s like bringing a 20-000 horsepower Dodge Ram to do a tug of war with a bunch of Mini Coopers, there’s just no comparison.

That’s not the only really good question I now have answers to, there’s a lot more, questions you’ll never be able to answer until you actually sit yourself down and grok a lot of this stuff on your own.

Which of the above languages is faster, doesn’t blow up randomly, which would be nice as a systems language?

And many more questions that because you haven’t seen, you’re not even aware there are such questions, let alone ask them.

If you must quote me, well, I can’t recommend OCaml enough as a systems language and to learn more about computing. And CoffeeScript as a way to learn frameworks like Meteor and DerbyJS and make mobile apps with Cordova.

I can’t recommend Python’s Flask enough as a web development framework, and I can’t tell you how much more efficient it is to use Ruby on Rails as the web framework of choice over many others, and there’s a lot that I just can’t convey to you at this point. For that, you’d really have to go on a voyage yourself, and learn.

Only then will you truly understand what’s out there. And all the wonderful things that are possible for the hacker of today.

Enough about my lifetime’s worth of programmer education. Where is yours?

Thanks to earlier hackers like Norvig, Eric Raymond, Stroustrup, DHH, Joe Armstrong, and many others, upon whose accomplishments we are able to build today, it’s never been a better state of the civilization in computing land.


–Tomahawk Ten

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May 20, 2015