I read. A lot. In fact, I’d probably write more if I read less. Blogs have a special place in my heart, because reading a few special blogs back in the mid aughts guided me to where I am professionally today.
Three classic tech blogs were especially influential on me:
- Joel on Software – most of my understanding of the software business comes from Joel or things Joel linked to. It’s also interesting to see his evolution, given his early emphasis on slow, Ben and Jerry growth and desktop software, to heading a VC funded Amazon-style monetize later service like Stack Exchange and Trello. He defined many terms that people use to describe the software business today.
- Paul Graham – full of powerful, challenging ideas. He has about half of the entries on my list of “Life-changing, perception-altering quotes.” Again, interesting to see how he changed his leverage from spreading ideas through writing to spreading ideas through investing, mentoring, and execution.
- Raganwald – doesn’t have as many “big idea” posts that stand out in my memory, but his writing felt closer to home. Unlike Joel and pg, Raganwald always felt like a programmer, exploring issues that programmers cared about. Joel and pg felt like something else, but Raganwald seemed like a better version of what I could become.
Even though they’re 5+ years old, you’d still be better off today reading their old essays than most of what’s new. None of my three favorites still write much, but there’s so much gold on the table already.
I’m in a very different place than I was in 2005, 2006 when I started reading blogs. The cutting edge thoughts and ideas from back then have spread and in many cases become common knowledge. So I want to mention three new writers that excite me the way Joel, pg, and Raganwald did back then:
- Ramit Sethi – I came across Ramit’s blog several years ago and I thought he came off as a cheesy hustler. His cockiness and attitude kept me from believing his savings tactics. I wrote him off until a few months ago he came onto my radar again, and it’s different between us now. Now he dives deep into the psychology of high performance, how to make changes when most people fail, and more. Very strategic things. Now I think Ramit’s writings are some of the most exciting things for an ambitious person to read. Here’s a good recent post about mastering the game being played around you.
- Michael Ellsberg – Speaking of exciting, I can’t get enough of Michael Ellsberg since I heard him on Mixergy. He covers a lot of the same ground as Ramit but in a different way. Ramit seems to dance around the point more and use sales and persuasion techniques like testimonials a lot, but Ellsberg just attacks like a tiger wielding Thor’s hammer. I believe Ramit because he’s convincing, but I believe Ellsberg because he’s so aggressively open and confident. My favorite example of this is his article about his brand promise – to shatter limited thinking.
- Venkatesh Rao (also has a book called Tempo)- While Ramit and Ellsberg cover a lot of the same ideas, Venkatesh is completely off the wall. He explores history, technology, psychology, culture, business, and whatever he feels like, and he does it in a way unlike anyone else I’ve read. I don’t always agree with or understand everything he says, and I’m never sure if it’s because my thinking is too limited or if he’s off in left field. But there’s no one else today who has repeatedly reshaped my perception of things I didn’t even know I didn’t understand. Good places to start are his articles about leaving the middle class and a brief history of the corporation.
Give these writers a try and maybe they will reshape your mind forever too!
Discussion: Who do you think is writing the best stuff right now?