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The Importance of Side Projects


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The lowly side project—you know that thing you do for fun when you have some downtime? The history of the Internet is rife with stories of side projects starting as innocent little ways to kill some time or scratch an itch only to turn into something much larger.

From Blogger to Flickr to Twitter to Slack, a lot of very popular services started out as small side projects before eclipsing the very thing they grew from. And they’re not just important for startups, they’re also vital to anyone working on the web today. Thanks to a plethora of self-directed learning sites, there’s not much stopping you from building anything you can dream as your next side project. In the end, they’re great ways for anyone to expand their skill set, build on their hobbies, and impress future employers.

It’s time for side projects to take center stage.

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Matt Haughey is a veteran of the Internet, starting from the first days of blogging when he created MetaFilter and later with his work on Blogger. He helped launch and design Creative Commons and most recently has helped Slack share their vision for making everyone's working lives simpler, more pleasant, and more productive.

Published in: Technology
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The Importance of Side Projects

  1. 1. Hello.
  2. 2. [warning: guns and dildos ahead]
  3. 3. “Why in the hell are you spending your free time on this, of all the things you could spend your free time on?”
  4. 4. Nearly every great thing in my life was the result of my side projects
  5. 5. The Importance of Side Projects Matt Haughey @mathowie
  6. 6. ¯_( )_/¯
  7. 7. Historically famous people with side projects
  8. 8. Side Projects in Tech
  9. 9. My side projects
  10. 10. Big Lesson #1 Approach things by saying “well that’s cool, how do I do that too?”
  11. 11. Big Lesson #2 Take advantage of luck. Don’t waste it.
  12. 12. Big Lesson #3 Share what you learn, so others can follow.
  13. 13. Priorities 1. Family 2. My Job 3. My Side Projects 4. Everything else (hobbies like running and cycling, working out, watching TV, reading, going to movies and live music shows, etc.)
  14. 14. Big Lesson #4 Make time for projects by making them a priority in your life.
  15. 15. “I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what's next.” — Steve Jobs
  16. 16. Nearly every great thing in my life was the result of my side projects 1. Met my wife (hiking club) 2. Changed careers (learned HTML) 3. Ran my own business for 16 years (built my first web app) 4. Wrote a few books (thanks to blogging) 5. Sold a company (Fuelly, another sideproject) 6. My first visit to Barcelona! (speaking=side gig)
  17. 17. Big Lesson #5 Side projects don’t directly equal fame and fortune, but that’s ok.
  18. 18. Homework! 1. Write down a list of ideas 2. Pick one thing. 3. Cut out TV time, spend a couple weeks on it. 4. Tell friends so they check up on you.
  19. 19. Example
  20. 20. Some conclusions…
  21. 21. OK Go
  22. 22. Don’t trap yourself in boxes
  23. 23. Some conclusions…
  24. 24. Thanks for your time, go have lunch!