← Achraf ASH

Changing perspective and shiny object syndrom

Achraf Ait Sidi Hammou

Last week I watched a video of Furqan - founder of Thirdweb, Bebo, and more - sharing his stand around focus. I loved it!

I’ve always struggled with this idea of focus.

I’m an idea guy so asking me to focus is like asking a child to enter a toy store and not touch anything… and doing it every day.

I just can’t. Sorry.

But I kept trying anyway. Because every succesful people preaches us on the importance of focus. You can’t achieve anything if you’re not. Right?

Jack of all trades, master of none.

So I kept trying, and I kept failing.

Every time I tried forcing myself to commit to a single thing for more than a week, everything started to feel bland. It felt like I was forced to have a 9-5 and nothing else on the side. No sports, no reading, no writing, no hobbies. Nothing. Eat, work, sleep, repeat.

But this video opened another door.

He’s right! What if I was just trying to fit in something that is not meant for me.

Ryan Kulp likes to say that in startups every advice and its opposite are true.

You can raise fund or you can bootstrap.

You can hire people better than you and fill in the gaps, or hire people to delegate the tasks you don’t like so you can keep doing what you enjoy. Or you can even go solo.

You can work 100 hours a week or just 4.

It all comes down to your preferences and goals.

If you want to build the next Apple, sure, you need focus.

But this is not my goal!

Shiny Object Syndrom

Shiny object syndrome is the situation where people focus undue attention on an idea that is new and trendy, yet drop this as soon as something new takes its place. -Wikipedia

In The Knowledge Project podcast featuring Andrew Wilkinson, Shane Parrish asked Andrew how he dealt with the shiny object syndrom and his framework on project selection.

I was so excited to know the answer, but I was disappointed.

As always, there are no secrets: you just have to try a lot of different things and learn from it.

But in hindsight, I’m actually glad he said that - and not some BS technique - because it means I should embrace the shiny object instead of resisting it.


Historically though, using shiny object as a project selection framework hasn’t been succesful for me.

The reason is that I would usually stay in my comfort zone and spend all the time planning, designing and coding. But when time came to launch and do marketing, I jumped on the next idea.

Shiny object should be a project selection framework, not a way of running projects.

So I defined some guardrails to keep me from getting distracted by shiny objects:

  1. every project should start with a detailed memo to avoid working on an idea that only looks shiny from the outside but is actually not worth pursuing,
  2. define a minimal requirement and stick to the idea until you reach that goal (eg. 10 paying users),
  3. work on the smallest possible version first (eg. just sharing a memo) and make tiny steps to avoid losing motivation.

Changing perspective

This is just one example of changing perspective to match our own goals.

Where else can we break free from these one-size-fits-all ideas telling us how we should live our lives?

Please DM me on Twitter if you have an idea, I’d like to know!