My weeks are filled with opportunities to brainstorm, build, and collaborate. Recently, I’ve thought a bit abut the criteria I use to choose to be productive. Here’s some of my filtering:

Brainstorms: I thoroughly enjoy exploring ideas. I’ll brainstorm with most people about almost any idea - as long as it’s not too malicious / evil.

Small Projects: There are many reasons I’ll dive into small projects (weekend hacks or slightly larger). It could be to learn a new concept / framework, to create something awesome, to enjoy the process, or to collaborate with someone great. If the project strongly hits one of the buckets or moderately hits several, I’m likely to engage.

Start-up Ideas: I’m much more discerning about exploring ideas around which I might found a company (and raise funding). Some of my criteria include:

  1. Large addressable market: one of my professors is fond of saying “It takes as much energy to start a small business as a giant one”
  2. Solving a real problem: increases chances for success and my own motivation
  3. Positive social impact: I believe that if you have the capacity to change the world, you have an obligation to try
  4. Interesting; something I get excited about for years
  5. “But for” causation: if it’s likely to happen without me, I’m less motivated to build it; I consider the problem “solved”