I have a rule. After every podcast, I write down 10 things I learned. I don’t know if anyone else does this. Do you do this? Some people make illustrations. They send me what they’ve learned. It’s a creation of a creation of a creation. A drawing of a podcast of someone’s life.
But I broke my rule. It’s been over a month. And my brain is digging for the lessons from my interview with the creator of WordPress. I think I have Alzheimer’s. Matt was 19 years old when he started WordPress. It was 2003. Now WordPress.com gets more traffic than Amazon.com.
The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times both use WordPress. I use WordPress.
I wanted to know if it’s still worth the time and effort to make your own site. He said it is. That’s how you break out…
“We’re trying to revitalize the independent web,” Matt Mullenweg said. He’s 33 now. “It’s not like these big sites are going anywhere. They’re fantastic. I use all of them, but you want balance. You need your own site that belongs to you… like your own home on the Internet.”
This is part of Matt’s code. Not WordPress’s “code.” Matt’s like a robot. I mean that as a compliment. There are many signs of this: language, ability, he’s very exact.
I had to interrupt. He was talking in code. And it was my job to translate.
He said, “If I send you a unit of work…”
“I don’t mean to interrupt,” I said. “I’m a little bit of an interrupter. So I apologize in advance, but you talk in a very code-like language… ‘a unit of work.’ How about ‘a task?’ That works as well.”
He laughed. And thanked me for translating. The podcast continued.
He told me about his personal code (again, robot).
People have values. Geniuses and other advanced forms of life have “code.” So here’s Matt’s…
1. Measure what’s important to you.
Matt wrote a birthday blog. He does this every year to measure what’s changed. It lists how many books he’s read over the past year, countries he traveled to and so on.
He’s very specific.
It’s a measurement of his personal freedom. He can see where the time went. And if he chose himself. “You cannot change what you don’t measure,” Matt said.
So this year, I wrote a birthday blog.
2. Own the work you do.
“Other sites provide space,” he said. “They provide distribution in exchange for owning all of your stuff. You can’t leave Facebook or Twitter and take all of your followers with you.”
That’s why he recommends having your own website. It’s yours. Not Facebook’s. Not Business Insider’s or Huffington Post’s. It’s yours.
When I first started jamesaltucher.com, I picked a template, posted a blog, shared a link on Twitter and within 3-4 minutes I had traffic.
3. Ignore concern.
Matt dropped out of college and moved to San Francisco when he was 20.
“Were your parents upset?”
“They’ve always been supportive,” he said. “But they were concerned.”
That didn’t stop him. He had direction. And when you know where you’re going, you don’t ask for directions.
Sometimes I feel like I’m driving with the wrong address in my GPS. And Siri won’t stop re-routing.
So what I learned from Matt: Reroute yourself as many times as it takes. Reinvent.
Put someone else’s concern for your wellbeing on your gratitude list. But don’t let it stop you. Don’t let it get in the way of your code.
4. The myth of loyalty.
When Matt moved and started his first job, he made more than his dad did.
“I got an amazing salary,” he said.
I kept wondering if his parents were upset. I don’t know why.
“Were they upset?”
He said no. Again. But then he explained. “Learning spreads organically.” And when he moved, it helped spark possibility for his dad.
“He worked at the same company for 26 or 27 years. He more than doubled his salary when he left. It made me so sad. I never want anyone to be in the situation my dad was in,” he said. “He gave the loyalty of decades and they didn’t return that loyalty…”
Why? Because they were following a different code. The “employee code” is not the same as the “employer code.”
I don’t measure much. I try to let my life float by. And I hope to help people feel free enough to live by their own codes too. Like Matt and his dad.
That’s how I measure what’s important to me. Am I supportive of myself and of others? If yes, then I’m a mix of creation and evolution. Robot and human.
“Code” and DNA.